Letter from a Visitor
It is a unique experience to arrive at your home as a visitor. That’s in many ways what it feels like for me and my daughter, Mirabai, to come for a short visit during our spring break vacation. We were both rather nervous as we entered the front gate of Escuela Caracol, but the shouting of our names from across the garden and the warm hugs quickly put us at ease. Mirabai joined her class almost as if she had never left. They welcomed her like family. For those who know the school but who have not visited recently, I am thrilled to report that this little school with a big heart is filled with shining faces and vitality. It is still “the school where the students are happy;” it is still la Familia Caracol.
After our family’s departure last July, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect on this visit. What I found is a school that is vibrant yet grounded. I was struck by how human and authentic it feels, even as it is teeming with diversity — of language, culture, ways of seeing the world. It is such a stark contrast from the typical North American experience. Something special, something magical is slow-cooking at Escuela Caracol.
The day I arrived the students were preparing a song, “El Nuevo Dia,” (the new day) to perform the following Saturday in town. After that rehearsal, the fifth and sixth grades practiced guitar outside under the shade of some trees. Meanwhile the pedagogical director was in the kitchen preparing chocolate for an activity with that same group. The kids were on vacation during Semana Santa (Holy Week), so this week the older students were hand-making chocolate eggs to hide in the garden for the younger students. The kindergarten classes were going on hikes, the second grade was studying fables, the fifth grade Ancient India, and the next day the third grade had its first swimming class down at the lake. So much activity, yet the air was not tainted by stress.
The rehearsals were for performances at the Movimiento Caracol, a fundraiser the teachers are planning to hold in the center of town. There will be a variety of concerts and performances, handcrafted goods for sale, as well as food prepared by parents.
If you can contribute in any way with Escuela Caracol, perhaps sponsor a student, raise awareness in your own community or simply forward this message on to friends and family, it can make a great impact.
I am convinced more than ever that the world needs Escuela Caracol. It is pioneering the work of the future with its intercultural emphasis and its impulse toward a new consciousness that unites the social wisdom of indigenous peoples with the modern awareness of the individual. In many ways it is fighting to survive on the physical periphery of the Earth, but in a more spiritual sense it is living in fullness at the center of hope.
Thank you, Escuela Caracol, for the riches you have given to my family and to so many other families. Thank you for being the salt of the earth and a light on the hill.