Independence Day Celebration and Elections–Salem

The last week has been eventful. It all started with the spelling bee, which I’ve already told you about and ended with the independence day celebration on Friday. Guatemala’s independence day is September 15, but since we don’t have school this whole week, we celebrated last Friday. It was a long day, but also really fun. All of the pre-primary students prepared a song/dance/poem for Acto Civico, which is something we do every Month. We go to the cafeteria with all of the students from pre-primary and primary, sing the national anthem, recite the pledges, and get a values lesson from one of the primary grades. This acto civico was special, because all of the pre-primary kids did their acts instead of having a values lesson. The families of all of the students were also invited for this acto civico. All of the pre-primary kids also wore traditional Guatemalan clothing:


The teachers had to wear traditional shirts with dress pants. I couldn’t get a very good picture of mine, but here is the best I have:


Next all of the students went back to their buildings for the mercadito, where they sold traditional food they had prepared. All of the students (or their parents) prepared or bought traditional food and they sold the food for Q3 (less than 50 cents) each. Most of my kids did really well and we had a lot of different food, which I’ll try to explain.

Some of the kids brought bread with beans or chicken salad in the middle.

Some kids brought doblados, which are like fried empanadas.

Some brought different kinds of tamales, which are made from cornmeal and sometimes have beans, chicken, or pork inside.

A few brought mole, which has fried plantains in a sauce that is made with chocolate and different spices.

Some kids had a pudding with raisins on top.

And some kids had fried plantains.

I tried some mole, a pudding, and a doblado. I also was able to sneak some plantains from some of my students without paying. Loren tried a bread with beans and a doblado. All of the food was really good and the kids were so proud of the money they made. Instead of having the parents actually pay with money, they bought tickets outside. That way we could make sure none of the money ended up in the kids’ pockets or got lost.


Loren and his pan con frijoles.

After the mercadito, we went to watch Talento Boston, which was our primary talent show. There is a big talent competition sponsored by one of the local papers called Talent Kids and this was our school version. There were dancers and singers and most of them did really well. Then the primary chorus sang two songs. Ana’s daughter Allison and both of Hania’s kids were in the chorus and they did great! Allison sang the songs for the rest of the day, so I feel like I have them memorized!


We also went to our first political rally ever and it was here in Guatemala! We were in town so I could tutor and we found out that the man who was favored to win the Guatemalan election (Otto Perez Molina) was going to speak later that night. He was supposed to speak at around 6, so we got there around 6:30 and he started talking around 7:30. By the time he started talking we were tired and cold, but we felt accomplished because we had been there and tried to learn more about the elections. We’ve been feeling bad because we don’t know very much about the different parties in Guatemala. There are about 10 people running for president, and we only know 2 of their names.

So elections were yesterday and they do elections in a very interesting way. If no candidate gets above 50% of the vote, the top few candidates do a final election in November. The candidate with the highest percent only had around 37%, so the top 3 candidates will be going to the second election on November 6th, right before we leave for the US.

One of the interesting things about elections here is the format of the elections. Guatemala has about a 50% literacy rate, so they can’t have elections the same way we do in the US. Instead, ballots look like this:

(This is the one from 2007)

And the advertisements on the street look like this:


At first we thought that other parties were x-ing out their opponents’ signs, but we figured out that people vote by putting an X through the party of their choice, so even if a people are illiterate, they can still vote by doing exactly what the advertisement says.

Also, campaigns have really catchy songs that people blast from trucks as they drive around town and remind people to vote. There is one that Loren always gets stuck in his head and we found it on youtube for you to hear!

This blog post sounds like a partido patriota advertisement, but really, it was the first google image that came up.

I do have videos of the independence day performances, and I’ll put those on as soon as they upload!


One response

  1. Nice!

    September 13, 2011 at 7:14 am

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