Bolivian Father's Day Celebration

A Charming Invitacion

Volunteer Orit Netter shares this story of Dia del Padre, the Bolivian Father's Day:

"One day during my volunteer stint at Los Amigos Quaker school in La Paz, things seemed a little different.  Clearly something was up, but with my limited Spanish, I wasn’t able to figure it out - until midday, when a teacher was selling home-made chocolates (like hot cakes!) in the shapes of ties and watches to everyone within a mile of the teacher’s "lounge". Finally I understood.  The following day was Día del Padre (Father’s Day) in Bolivia, and clearly, it was an important day! 

Invitations were handed out to the kids at the end of the day to bring home to their families.  I also received a personal invitation, which was so touching.  But most endearing of all was the method the Kinder teachers used to send home invitations with the youngest of our students.  I almost melted when I saw an adorable 4-year-old wearing a large paper tie with the word, “invitación” on the front, and the invitation with details glued onto the back.

The next day, the buzz was palpable.  While an attempt to hold classes was made early in the morning, it was quickly abandoned as anticipation and excitement took over.  All talk turned towards the upcoming celebration.  The students had made beautiful cards adorned with pictures, heartfelt sentiments, and decorations for their fathers, which they proudly shared with one another. 

Meanwhile, preparations were underway in the courtyard.  A large white sheet had been hung and handmade letters that would soon spell “Felicidades Papá” were being taped to the sheet.  Someone had blown up balloons, and the oldest students were helping carry out speakers for the sound system.  

About 10:00, fathers and families began filing in.  Many fathers sat in the chairs that had been arranged for them up front.  Many more hung back in the rear of the courtyard and stood with their families.  The students filed out and lined up by class. 

Los Amigos students demonstrating a time-honored line spacing technique. (Before and after.)


At 10:30, the celebration got underway,  beginning with Quaker prayers and hymns.  The national anthem was sung, and the flag raised.  Then the youngest of the students shared performances that they had prepared...
Very young f/Friends singing and dancing at Dia del Padre celebration, Los Amigos Quaker school  

... some of which were super-hero themed, or spotlighted all that is special about fatherhood.
Very young superheroes line up to show their dads how they feel about them. Los Amigos school's "Dia del Padre" celebration, March 2015.

The celebration went on for some time, but I had to leave to pick up my own daughter from school.  I was truly impressed by the time and energy the school devoted to this event, not to mention the students’ sincere investment in honoring and celebrating their fathers.