For Carmen it was probably the most special night of this year. I used to see her everyday at school, wearing her sport trousers and pink pullover with Mickey Mouse. She was always a bit scattered minded, seemed to live in her own world, so different from the school reality. But this night I almost didn’t recognize. Her hair was all curly; she was wearing a glimmering violet dress, silver shoes and make-up. She looked just like a princess Barbie-doll. She was smiling and her eyes were shining from excitement. No wonder, it was her prom night.
In Peru, the school graduation is a big event. Seems almost too big, taking into account the fact that it’s just a primary school and the kids are only 12 years old. The girls come all dressed up, in their Barbie-doll dresses and shiny shoes. The boys look like little gentlemen, in their white shirts and ties. (Imagine how much effort it is for the family: to buy their daughter a dress, shoes, take her to the hairdresser… While sometimes they cannot even afford school books).
And the party starts.. There are speeches, dinner and dancing. Each kid gets their own graduation cake and a graduation souvenir. And dance and play happily almost until the morning, while their parents get drunk celebrating the graduation of their children..
That’s how it looks like in the city. A day before I was invited to the graduation of the high school of Catache, where I was giving science workshops. There were not Barbie dresses, curls and no dancing until the morning. Everything was very modest, very quite..
I would like to see what happens to those kids in a couple of years.. All of my students from the school of Manthoc are going to continue their studies in the high school. But how many will finish? Will any of them make it to the university?
From the students of Catache two guys are going to study auto mechanics in the nearby technological institute. One will maybe go to live with his sister and study in Trujillo, one of the largest cities of Peru. The only girl that graduated this year will not continue to study. She’s going to stay at home, they say that high school is more than enough for a woman.