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A Day to Forget

By Mike Johnson

Demonstrations in the streets. Violence. Over 56 percent inflation. Shortages of basic goods. Road blockages. Arrests. School schedule changes. Cancellations of activities.
Uncertainty is everywhere, and it takes its toll. How does all of this uncertainty affect our students? How does a 10-year-old boy deal with the reality that his friends cannot make it to school safely?
How does a 13-year-old girl come to terms with the fact that her friends are participating in massive demonstrations being viewed by the world rather than coming to school? Or that they are out all night, fighting in the streets against a government they detest?
A few weeks ago, in the midst of the insanity that is at present our daily reality in Caracas, Venezuela we had scheduled our Middle School Career Day and afternoon Beach Bash. The day started off with our students (the 85 percent who were able to make it that day) coming together to talk about Career Day.
We began with a video produced by two teachers and starring several members of our faculty lip-syncing and dancing to the song We’re so Excited—a parody of the popular song, Radioactive. The video was a huge hit with the students, and a great way to start the day. Students then broke off into groups and visited guest speakers who shared information about their occupations, giving students insight into different career possibilities.
Perhaps the biggest hit of the day was the visit from three U.S. Marines, who were particularly popular with the middle school girls thanks to their mix of camouflage and dress uniforms!
Following Career Day everyone headed to the pool. It was two straight hours of play. Vaulting down the inflatable slide... catching rings being thrown into the pool by a teacher... playing keepaway with a football... and continuous games of “chicken.” It was a beautiful day, there was junk food galore, and the event was alive with laughter from start to finish.
As school let out and the party ended, students and teachers departed quickly and went their separate ways for the weekend. But for one glorious day, we all just seemed to forget. Forget the demonstrations. Forget the violence. Forget the inflation. Forget the shortages. Forget the roadblocks. Forget the arrests. Forget the schedule changes and activity cancellations.
Did we get much “teaching” done that day? Certainly not. But we did remember to forget our troubles, and create an opportunity for our students to be kids again, if just for a day. I wish I could say we had intentionally planned the day to fill this desperate need, but we had no such foresight.
However, let this day serve as a reminder to us all that once in a while, we just need to forget.
Mr. Johnson is in his fourth year as Middle School Principal at Escuela Campo Alegre in Caracas. He loves his job, he loves the country and people of Venezuela, and he enjoys living there, in spite of the present challenges faced by the country. He is also the proud father of—you guessed it—a 10-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl.

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