Two weeks ago, my school, I.E. John F. Kennedy (IEJFK) partnered up with another school in town, I.E. Maria Immaculada (IEMI) to celebrate the Battle of Boyacá. This battle, which was fought on August 7, 1819, was the difinitive battle that gave Colombia its independence from Spain. To celebrate this monumental day in Colombian history, we paraded through town on our way to one of the baseball stadiums in town. This parade literally stopped traffic as we made our way through town on the one and only highway that makes its way through town. When we reached the plaza, we met up with the students and teachers from IEMI and made our way to the baseball stadium.
However, for me, the ultimate highlight of the day was what happened after these performances. Here in Colombia, as I'm sure I've eluded to in the past, soccer is king. Life stops when both Junior (the local soccer team) and the national team play. Unfortunately, this only happens with the men's teams. The women's national team definitely does not garner as much attention country wide. In general, opportunities for women and girls, including sports, are fairly limited, as teenage pregnancy is an issue many of these small pueblos face. So it was a breath of fresh air when a softball game between the 10th graders from IEJFK and IEMI was held to end the celebration. I was so impressed and blown away by the amount of support that the other teachers and students gave the girls as they gave their all on the field and at the plate.
While there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality here in Colombia, in my opinion, this game was definitely a step in the right direction. Instead of featuring soccer and putting the spotlight on the boys, as is so often done, these schools chose to feature the female athletes of their schools. Here's to future "days off" that in turn continue to empower and give the girls of this pueblo a chance to shine and showcase their talents.