Fiestas Patrias (Chilean Independence Day) marks the start of what was a long process of Chilean Independence, when on September 18, 1810, the first governing body of Chile independent from Spain was proclaimed. It is, perhaps, one of the most widely celebrated and important holidays in the calendar year. Traditional attire is donned, and traditional music and dance can be heard and seen all throughout the country. It is a weekend of pride and fraternity that gathers Chilean communities together for festivities that often span over four days.
In honor of the holidays, VSP joined our kids and communities in games, food, music, and dancing.
The morning of September 15th, VSP staff and interns went to the school Laguna Verde, where they hosted games for students, their family, and their friends. VSP students dressed in traditional attire and danced la cueca, a beautiful dance that has cultural roots stemming all the way back to the 1700s. The boys wore colorful ponchos, boots and chupayas (a traditional hat) and the girls wore traditional dresses. The younger students performed skits of various kinds, and after, all were invited to partake in yincana, a traditional game that is a form of a relay race. Some of the VSP staff even played! Between the games, people were invited to eat and drink Chilean food associated with the holidays, like empanadas of course, along with sweets and desserts.
After these festivities, the VSP staff hosted and facilitated a cultural event in the neighborhood of Cerro Toro. Helping facilitate the events at Cerro Toro were local University students studying social work who have been working with us in this community, offering workshops that promote mental and physical well-being. Like the events at Laguna Verde, there was cueca dancing, food and drink, and the yincana race. Kids were also invited to get their faces painted and do other arts and crafts!
It was a day of celebration and community, and an important opportunity for VSP to connect with the local communities that we are a part of.