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Graduation 2013 in Huisisilapa

The community of Huisisilapa (Huisi) bestowed a huge honor on Phyllis Andersen by naming the 2013 graduation in her name. Phyllis has a 12-year solidarity with the community beginning with the seven women participation in her dissertation field research (See more under Huisisilapa tab). “It was beyond a pleasure and an honor for me to be with the Huisisilapeños for graduation November 2013” says Andersen who was able to travel to Huisisilapa over thanksgiving vacation in the states.
Graduation is “the” day most celebrated in Huisi and everyone comes out dressed in their finest.” Graduations of the Kindergarteners, the 9th grade and high school are all celebrated together in a way that is foreign to us in the states. There is a dress protocol, suit coats for the men and fancy dresses for the women. The fanciest dresses were of the kindergarteners and the boys with their matching purple shirts and vests. The families save for at least a year to finance the graduation activities because lunches are then served to family and friends after the ceremony. The dresses and spiked heels of the women and the suits of the men are saved as a remembrance. They are seldom borrowed, only in extreme situations. Wilfredo, the director of the school, proudly told me that he still has his suit coat, pants and shoes from his graduation. I was underdressed but I felt comfortable. The teachers couldn’t believe that I didn’t bother to go to many of my own graduations. It just goes to show how education is taken for granted in the states and how precious it is to be able to study in El Salvador countryside.

The day’s festivities began with Mass at 7 am. All the graduates were announced as they entered the church with a family member who accompanied them. The church was packed and decorated. From Mass all the graduates exited and walked across the street with the family member who accompanied them. They were greeted with decorated coconut palms that made an archway for their entrance. Again they were announced as they entered the plaza and took their seats accompanied by their family member.
Phyllis was formally seated at the “table of honor” with people from the ministry of education from the department, Marcos the president of CRIPDES, the President of the Community Council (Dina who was from the first graduating class and has just finished her nursing degree. Nate Conover stayed at her house.) Tacachico’s mayor which is the municipality of Huisi, Wilfredo, school director and padrino of the high school graduates and other “madrinas” of the kindergarteners and the 9th grade class, and other representatives of supporting non-governmental groups. They had a banner with my picture hanging behind the table of honor.

From there, the speeches began. Phyllis reported that some of the speeches were a little long but people stayed quite attentive and listened. It was abou 10:30 when Phyllis delivered her message from Hermanas Spokane. She had prepared a simple explanation of how our solidarity with Huisi started and then read a letter written by Barbara Loste an long time Hermans everyone’s favorite of the ceremony. See letter below but be aware that it is written in Spanish. A copy of the letter was presented to Wilfredo the school director. The speech by Phyllis and the letter were a huge confirmation of solidarity that the ministers of education and the mayor, witnessed. It made Wilfredo and the teachers content to see the results of their labors.. Also Wilfredo shared with Phyllis that one of the older men from the community told him that it was the best talk of the day. Thank you Barbara for your words of wisdom!! It was beautiful to see the show of support of the teachers toward education in Huisi also.

Once the speeches were over one by one all the graduates came up to the table of honor and shook the hands of all the people seated at the table of honor, posed for pictures and walked back down the steps before the next graduate was announced. In short handing out diplomas lasted until after 1 pm and then there were pictures! Lunch was served about 2 pm. Phyllis shared that she feels so blessed to have been honored and have the opportunity to participate in a graduation in Huisi..
The personal highlight for Phyllis was congratulating the 4 high school graduates who were Camp Salvador Counselors last summer; Yoni, Amilcar, Yensi and Glendy.

Here are pictures of graduation in Huisi the 22nd of Nov., 2008. You can see by the way the students are dressed and the standing room only in the new church that graudation in Huisi is a very important and a proud moment for all.

Fotos, Graduación de bachilleres. La graduación estuvo bien bonita, comenzó con una misa, luego fue el acto de entrega de diplomas que acreditó a 23 bachilleres en la promoción de 2008. Todos se vistieron muy elegantes como muestra de la gran importancia del evento para los graduados y la comunidad. Luego de terminado el evento cada quien compartió con amigos y familiares un suculento almuerzo.

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2005 Middle School Graduates

2005 Graduates