Copa de la Amistad
This week, for one reason or another, was insane. In hindsight, I guess, it ended appropriately enough.
Friday was the annual Copa de la Amistad, or the soccer match against Colegio Bolívar's rival school, Colegio Colombo Britanico (CCB). I would liken the spectacle to a North American Homecoming game. Except the focus is the competition. I loved homecoming in high school, just not for the actual football game. If I'm being honest, the Roseville Raider football team's record during the late 90's left something to be desired. I know for a fact we didn't win any of our homecoming games - and aren't you supposed to schedule those against teams you might have a chance at beating? (Those were the only football games I recall going to in high school. Sadly, I'm not alone.)
Part of the reason homecoming week was so fun was the spirit days and activities leading up to it, the dressing up in whatever black and silver attire we could find, and painting your class numbers on your face - and some poor unlucky under-classmen's as well. ("Double O! Double O! Double double double double double O!") Reflective fire blankets made great capes, by the way.
One major difference between my North American homecoming football experience and the Bolívar students' "Friendship Cup" futbol experience is that theirs happens during the school day. To be precise, two and a half class periods into the school day. Also, attendance is mandatory.
First hour was fine. Some of them were still waking up and wondering how they succeeded in remembering to dress themselves in school colors in the first place. By second period the excitement was building. I was able to keep my class on task because they were behind the other classes, they could not afford to get further behind, and they knew it. Then break time hit and all semblance of a working school day vanished. When break time had last ten minutes longer than it should have, I wandered to the other side of the science balcony, which overlooks the high school quad and was treated to a bird's eye view of a chaotic sea of blue and white. It seems going back to class had become optional.
I got the attention of a few of the students who should have been in their seats for ten minutes already and had them round up their other classmates and hightail it to biology. Thankfully, they did as they were asked. Other teachers were not so fortunate. After acquiring about 75% of my class and succeeding in getting and keeping their attention (no small feat on regular days) another severely tardy girl walked in and innocently asked if she can go paint her face. I believe the court reporter would have written this:
"Paint your face. You want to go and paint your face during class time? Class time that you are already 15 minutes late to? Class time where you just had almost 45 minutes to find a bathroom mirror and paint your face 5 times if you wanted. Please have a seat.
"Let me explain to you all why this is frustrating to me. I realize this is an exciting day. I get that. I realize that [as ninth graders] this is your first year going to the Copa. I understand. And I know that this class is only 45 minutes long. That is why I was not planning on have a 'regular' class today. That is why I wrote some simple instructions on the board and that is why I was planning on playing a game with you today. But when I have to find you to come to class, fight to get your attention, and then have to deal with people who want to paint their faces because they didn't have enough time in an extended break to do it...well, I get a little upset.
"I should bust out some genetics problems and have us work through those for the next 20 minutes. I'm really tempted to do that. But we're not. You are going to read the instructions on the board, you're going to follow them, we are going to sit in a circle on the floor, and WE'RE GOING TO HAVE SOME FUN, DAMN IT!"
And we did. Then we all boarded busses adorned with blue and white flags, thundering with various types of drums, whistles, and horns, and headed all the way around the block to CCB. Once at the game the kids could finally let loose. And they did - the school song, streamers, and flags were everywhere. The best part was when the ninth graders ran out of steam; their lack of fan endurance was sad, really. But I suppose starting your engine four hours before you back out of the driveway will affect how far down the street you make it.
Appropriately the "Friendship Cup" ended as a tie and, in the spirit of Amistad, it was agreed that it would stay a tie. I do love how much the Colombians love their soccer...even to insane levels!