Monday, October 4, 2010

Choir Trip: September 26, 2010

Last Sunday, Pete and I accompanied the Casa’s choir to a performance in a nearby town square. They were singing for a celebration to commemorate Mexico’s 200th year of Independence. The Casa has a great choir led by a charismatic and passionate teacher: El Maestro Mario. He loves his students at the Casa and at the other two schools where he teaches--one in a coastal community about an hour away from Colima and another in a nearby indigenous community. This man never seems to tire. I think his energy stems from his childlike nature. At lunch one day, he was showing me videos on his cell phone of the intricate lego structures that he had built in his home. In the choir, he has fun with the kids while providing them a critical space to be both challenged and creative. 
El Maestro’s dedication couldn’t have been more evident than when we went on an expedition in his big van to pick up students at their houses on the way to the performance. The majority of the kids at the Casa go to their families’ homes on the weekends and during vacations. Since this choir event was on a Sunday, it was el Maestro’s responsibility to pick up kids if their guardians could not drop them off at the Casa or at the event location.  Since we drove around Colima picking up kids, it took us probably about three times as long to arrive at our destination than it would have taken driving there directly. Following the show and a nice taco dinner, el Maestro dropped all 11 of the kids (some of them being siblings) back at their homes. By the time that two of the kids, Pete, and I were dropped off back at the Casa it was around 11 pm and he had a few more kids to go before he was able to head home. 
The event itself was nice. We arrived at the town square around 6:40 pm and the choir wasn’t scheduled to go on until 8:30. When we arrived, we saw there were men setting up an official looking stage with colored lights, mics, and large speakers, which we later learned was just for our group. El Maestro talked to the organizers to see if they could go on any earlier as the kids were ready, an audience was there to watch, and the sky looked and sounded like it was going to storm at any moment. The organizers stuck to their original schedule, so we had some time to hang out, chat with the kids, play hang man (or a less violent version that Pete created in which you add rays to a sun,) and two of the girls (sisters) even styled Pete’s hair. 
Shortly before the event, the choir dressed in their performance clothes and armed themselves with fake pistols--2-3 per person. During the show they pulled them out at various times and fired them. The theme of the show was music from the Revolution, so the pistols were period pieces, though the kids seem to enjoy pretending to fire them at each other while preparing for the performance. The choir sang beautifully and people endured the rain to listen to them until the end.
One highlight of the evening was meeting the grandmother of one of the boys. He was not in the choir, but his sister was so he came to the event too. When he saw Pete and me, he pointed and said to his grandmother, “This is Melissa and Pete.” We introduced ourselves and she said that she had heard about us. She also said that he had showed her a picture that I had given him of the two of us in July. It was nice to meet her and felt nice to know that positive reports seemed to be going home about us. I felt that it was a special privilege to be introduced to his family. He sat next to me during the performance and during some of the songs, sang out at the top of his lungs.  

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