This weekend we celebrated the 12th (I think) anniversary of Loma Pampa with our barrio friends. The highlights of the event this year were the performances by our students, who sang and danced and put on a show unlike anything ever seen in the barrio. Against the backdrop of the mural painted by last year's group, Aman sang an original version of "Gringa Bonita," the best line of which went "we can't help it if we're gringos," which brought big laughs from the crowd (who apparently thought we could help it). This was followed by a big dance performance that featured such classic tunes as "YMCA," "Thriller," and, unexpectedly, "Cotton-Eyed Joe." After the big number, some of the students led a group of children in a dance activity, and then Joyelle and Carmen, a friend from Cochabamba, performed an improvisational modern dance number. The whole thing was quite spectacular.
Another exciting moment came in the big dance competition that followed these performances. Several pairs of students participated, along with a few barrio residents, performing traditional and not-so-traditional Bolivian dances. Though the pair of Hayden and Blondeen made it to the final round, the prize was won by our own Pamela and Guery, who then turned their prizes over to the people in the crowd, who eagerly accepted the bags of pasta, bars of soap, and bottles of cooking oil that they distributed.
The efforts of our students, both today and over the past month, have not gone unrecognized by the residents of Loma Pampa. As part of the anniversary event, the barrio leaders called each student by name to approach the microphone, and presented them with certificates of appreciation for their work.