Costa Rican Independence Day

Dan Perkins is a current WorldTeach volunteer in Costa Rica. Originally from Boston, Dan was a 7th grade history teacher before going to Costa Rica, and he hopes to continue teaching and writing when he returns.

September 15th is Independence Day in Costa Rica, but we started celebrating at the school the week before. Every day, we had a different acto civico (assembly) to celebrate different accomplishments, events, and people in Costa Rica's history: the abolition of the military, Pope John Paul II's visit, and Franklin Chang Diaz, their first astronaut. On the morning of the 14th, the older students arrived at school ready to run. The tradition on this day is to carry a torch throughout all the local towns, lighting the torch of each new town they reach. In our area, the torch started at the bottom of the mountain at 7am, and reached the highest town by 1pm. Everyone was given the rest of the day off to rest (as well as the odd advice to drink coffee to rehydrate), and we reconvened that night for a dance recital and a lantern competition. The day comes to an end with the lanterns lighting up the town in a parade, which is followed by a much-deserved celebration by the teachers at the local soda for a week's worth of hard work.

The 15th is the big day, and the entire town came to a halt for the Independence Day parade. Different groups from elementary and high schools took part, including drummers, color guards, cheerleaders, and the indigenous culture club. The parade makes one big loop around the town and ends on the soccer field with demonstrations from each group.

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