At Safe Passage, more than 90% of our staff are Guatemalan. Cultural celebrations are an important part of what we do to celebrate our Guatemalan roots and bring our community together!
Each year, Guatemala celebrates its independence from Spain on September 15. In honor of the holiday, Safe Passage staff, volunteers, students and parents join together to celebrate community, culture with thematic activities, art projects, history lessons, and the annual la antorcha run:
Celebrating Guatemala’s National Symbols
Our youngest learners at the Escuelita learned the significance of Guatemala’s national symbols (la monja blanca, el quetzal, la ceiba or la marimba) with an art project.
Celebrating Guatemala’s Historical Locations
Students used artistic murals to learn about Guatemala’s historic locations (including Kaminal Juyu and the National Palace). Each student had the opportunity to teach their classmates what they learned about each historic site and it’s importance to Guatemalan culture.
Celebrating La Antorcha
The culminating event is the annual la antorcha (torch run) through the streets of Guatemala City! What is la antorcha?
“Preserving a tradition dating back to the night before the historic day itself (14th September 1821) in which independence hero, María Dolores Bedoya, ran through the streets of Guatemala carrying a lantern as a symbol of hope for the nation’s liberated future, modern-day participants take equal pleasure in celebrating their continued independence.
In a combined effort, the relay runners, generally of school or university age, cover a distance of approximately 350km across the five Central American countries. Naturally, the extensive relay creates great excitement amongst Guatemalan spectators who cheer loudly as they watch the torch pass through their beloved towns and villages (Source).”
The annual la antorcha tradition begins at the Obelisk in Zone 10 in Guatemala City where Safe Passage students and mothers collected the patriotic fire to fuel the torch. Back at Safe Passage, students with the highest grades were granted the honor of carrying the torch and the national flag through the halls of our Learning, Art and Fun Center!
Celebrating Traditional Dance and Clothing
As Independence Day activities continued, each Safe Passage class represented a different region of Guatemala. Many of our students wore traditional clothing that best represented the area, which made for a colorful display of costumes from the regions of Achi, K’iche’, indigenous Queqchí, etc.
Lively music, dances and songs filled the halls of our school with the sounds of laughter and children’s voices celebrating their culture and their country.