We were welcomed by two different public schools today with two different cultures. Aquileo Parra pulled out all the stops for our arrival. Hundreds of students packed the playground waving homemade American flags. Our official welcome included an impressive display of traditional dance, an essay about the meaning of our visit to a student, and a welcome speech from the principal. Inside, we heard from different groups of student leaders (model United Nations, conflict-resolution leaders, and student representatives). The enthusiasm of this school community is irrepressible.
We dipped our toes into the Bogota of yore in the charming Usaquen neighborhood. After a meal at the venerable Casa Vieja (try the truchas!), we had a few minutes to explore narrow streets packed with vendors of handicrafts and religious iconography upon the exteriors of homes.
The second school, I.E. Distrital Usaquen, has what may be the most green campus I've seen anywhere. Students travel between buildings to various classes through tree-lined paths and courtyards surrounded by flowering shrubbery. A discussion with a student panel afterward revealed the students curiosity about American values and their interest in being agents of change.