Our Chilean flatmate, Pedro (who is currently climbing a mountain somewhere in Patagonia) has a very interesting family. His mother and stepfather works at Escuela Francisco Varela, a Buddhist primary school in the Peñalolén area, which is quite far from the city centre.
The past weekend the school held a ceremony and social event to celebrate the fact that additional buildings will be built to accommodate more children in older age groups. I went to the event with Marion (Pedro’s girlfriend and also our flatmate).
A traditional ceremony was performed by three Mapuche people (the indigenous inhabitants of Chile). For the ceremony everybody had to take of their shoes, branches of a Canelo tree were handed out and we all walked four times in a circle on the ground where the new construction will take place. We also had to shout “yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah” every now and then. A horn was blown while we were walking in the circle. The ceremony was to show respect for nature and to bless the land.
After the formal ceremony it was time to celebrate with Cueca dancing, traditional games for the children and of course the afternoon was rounded off with a fantastic parillo and lost of delicious Chilean salads.
The Buddhist school is apparently becoming a popular option for parents, as the school focuses on providing a calm and happy atmosphere for the children. It offers activities such as meditation and yoga and has a resident artist that does print making in his workshop at the school. Even though the area around the school appears to be filled with large luxurious houses, the buildings of the school looks quite rural and they even have a chicken pen and a vegetable garden!
I think I would have enjoyed to have classes in such a happy place!