Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kite Day

Monday, March 22, was Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, or Emancipation Day. This is an official Commonwealth of Puerto Rico holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1873, while the Island was still a colony of Spain. Schools are closed and many people celebrate the 3-day weekend with visits to the beach or family outings.

My husband and I happened to be visiting Old San Juan on Emancipation Day this year.

Dominating the city is Castillo San Felipe del Morro (or El Morro), a citadel with a commanding view of the entrance to San Juan Harbor.

Every year, the San Juan National Historic Site hosts a Kite Festival, open to the public free of charge, which is held on the grounds of El Morro. Through this event, the National Park Service hopes to share and promote environmentally friendly ways to enjoy the area, a World Heritage Site since 1983.

The "official" Kite Festival was held on March 6th this year, but we happened upon an informal reprise on Emancipation Day. A number of school buses brought students to the grassy esplanade in front of El Morro; other children arrived, via cars or ferry boats, with their families. A steady wind from the sea provided perfect flying conditions, and it was evident that a good time was being had by all.

Most kids (and adults) flew commercially produced kites. My mind kicked into teacher/lesson plan mode, and I couldn't help but think of ways to integrate this type of activity into the curriculum: in technology (design), art (decoration), English Language Arts (description, storytelling). Mathematics, science, social studies, physical education...connections could be made in any subject area.

Teachable moments abounded. But, on this hot and sunny tropical day, it was enough to enjoy the sight of kites dancing on the breeze and listen to the sound of children laughing.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, or a new country.” Anais Nin

Other photos from our visit to Old San Juan can be found here.

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