The literal translation means “coexistence”. At our school, it means a field trip to a location nearby, where you do team building and¬†self-esteem activities. On Thursday was my class’s convivencia and beforehand, I really had no idea what to expect. As it was our first field trip, the kids were excited beyond belief. Plus, it was a casual day which meant no uniforms for them!

We arrived at a finca about 20 minutes south of town and led the students to a pavilion to meet their leaders. I found out later that convivencia is common all across Colombia, and the leaders of our group travel around doing this for different schools. Unfortunately, many public schools do not have the funds to do it, but at our private school, parents pay a “convivencia fee” along with their regular tuition that month.

Throughout the morning, students participated in some team building activities like this ball game below.

Then they talked about Hopes and Dreams, including what they wanted to be in the future and how that profession is beneficial. They paired up and traced each other’s profiles before coloring and decorating it like their future professional self.

There was a giant soccer field, playground, and some animals there, so we spent our snack time and recess exploring that area. It was SO great just observing the animals and talking about them with many of the students, rather than all the pressure you have in a school setting. I even have some great videos of the turkey gobbling at them to go away! haha

Enter more games, activities, discussions, etc…..then came my favorite part and the whole reason I wanted to write a post! Students were given a blindfold. Soothing music was put on, the leader was talking them through the growth of them, as if they were a seed. Students relaxed down onto the ground, felt their heart as their seed center, stretched and grew, and so on. I felt as if I was at the end of my yoga sessions doing the Savasana! They were mostly calmed down over 10 minutes of this…of course, being first graders, some were curious and kept trying to take off their blindfolds! haha.

Then we were told to choose about half the class that we felt were sufficiently calmed. Those students went around to the still-blindfolded kids, gave them hugs, said thank you for different things, apologized for others, and in general, had kind exchanges with the others. I LOVED seeing the reactions on everyone’s faces and the hugs. Then they switched places. Several kids began crying. Once they all took blindfolds off and some kids saw the others crying, of course they began to as well. Seeing this made ME cry! The students went around and did lots of hugging, then they all started coming over to my assistant and I. I cried more and the kids noticed. We talked about how it was out of happiness, instead of sadness.

We had finished up most of the activities by that point in the day, so it was lunchtime and extra long play time! The students were LOVING the merry-go-rounds, and I got 19 of them going fast on one of them. I explained to the Colombian leaders how they are now illegal in the states. Shortly after, one of my kiddos fell off a different piece of equipment (a climbing arc thing) and split open her lip. Whoops. Then another boy fell while trying to spin the merry go round. Whoops again. But as I tell them…they’re tough! They’ll be just fine. Kids spring back so easily most of the time.

While not necessarily educational in the traditional sense, this field trip was one of the best I’ve ever been on. It was like counseling for a group of kids! They do it again in the spring, but also with parents. Very neat.¬†Today during our Morning Meeting at school, we talked about what we had learned yesterday…they seemed to have absorbed most of it! Of course, some students were fighting within minutes, but hey, they’re kids…right?