>> Thursday, November 01, 2007
In Nicaraguan schools, the closest you can get to a homecoming assembly is an acto. Actos lack the spirit wars and funny skits of the assemblies I had in high school, but they have a charm all their own. I recently experienced my first acto in for the Día de Raza (Day of Race) that is sort of a celebration of diversity and Nicaraguan culture.
Here are all the students standing in the auditorium area at the beginning of the acto . They all start off standing in very straight lines with their classmates, but the assembly can last longer than an hour, so eventually the lines sort of blur as students get tired. You can also sort of see the backdrops including Nicaragua’s national flower, the Old Market, and what I think is Coyotepe, an old prison on top of a hill. All actos have the same common elements: first, they begin with the singing of the national anthem and also have some sort of patriotic recitation, usually a poem by favorite Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dário. Also a required part of any good acto is folklórico dance. This particular assembly had four folklore dance groups. Next, reggaeton dancing. This is usually fairly scandalous dancing and is a big hit with all the students: There were also several groups of students that would sing and play the guitar to the other popular music genre, romántica. For the finale of the acto, these two first-year students danced. They were probably the best dancers in the whole group, but, I must admit, their dancing offended some of my sensibilities regarding what’s appropriate for 7th graders to do anywhere, let alone at a school assembly. I took a video of them dancing, but it’s a little inappropriate to show here, so I'm just posting a picture: After the assembly concluded, each class went back to their classroom to feast on a traditional Nicaraguan dish they had prepared. My class, first-year D (each section is lettered), chose to serve vigorón and Coca-Cola:Vigorón consists of yuca (like a more fibrous version of a potato), chicharón (pork rinds), and ensalada made of beets and cabbage. Sorry the picture is blurry; I was excited to eat!
A group of girls enjoying their vigorón at 10:30 am.Finally, Here’s some of primero D with my counterpart, Francis, and me. This isn’t everyone in the class, only those that volunteered to stay and help clean up.