Filadelfia

by Jorge Rivero González

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Sometimes things just work out. Our activities in the Unidad Educativa Filadelfia went smooth like silk.

Filadelfia sounds just like the city from America. We found many small communities in the middle of nowhere with names inspired in far away places like Hiroshima, Iraq or Philadelphia. “Welcome to the United States”, a teacher told us when we arrived to the school. She was just kidding but Plácido, our driver, told us that many of these communities originated from foreigners who have migrated to Bolivia many years ago. When things were difficult in their home countries, Bolivia welcomed them.

The moment we talked with the school’s principal, we knew this was going to work out. He was quite a guy, very energetic and lively. He kind of reminded me of Robin Williams! He was eager to help us on everything that that we needed and make sure that the teachers were, too.

Even though we performed activities only with secondary students, the opening talk was open to all the students. How lovely are the smaller ones!

– “Do you want to learn about the stars and planets?”, we asked.

– “Yes!!”, they cheered with joy.

They cheered for everything. At the beginning they were so excited that they didn’t even notice the questions we made.

– “What can you observe on the sky during daytime?”

– “Yes!!!”, they yelled.

It was so much fun!

Later we shared the school’s playground for our activities.  In one corner the Solar System was put together to scale, in another the Universe was expanding.  A bit further you could find students wondering about how to better classify galaxies and a few meters away we were observing a couple of sunspots on the Solar surface.

We also played volleyball with the Earthball and gave away astronomical postcards to the children. We didn’t want to go home!  We spent the rest of the day around the school, working with the teachers, playing football with the children, and looking for shelter from the storm. We sang, we ate and we even got scared with a story about the ghost of an elderly woman with long white hair that haunts the playground during nighttime.

The crescent of the Moon was rising more everyday. We could observe it for a while when the thick clouds allowed it.

Phil played the quepa and the principal brought his. They jammed together and the children started to play and dance around them. We didn’t want to leave the school nor Bolivia. We felt really welcome there and I began to understand why many people came to Bolivia many years ago looking for a new home.

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