Last weekend, Eva and her fellow "brigadistas" participated in a special parade for the "Dia del Brigadista" or "Dia del Patrullero Escolar." Our small group of a dozen or so uniformed students marched proudly along with brigadistas from other area schools.
Interestingly, the transit brigade is sponsored by the carabineros, or Chilean police. The liaison between the carabineros and the school is Don Luis, one of the two school "inspectors" (kind of the like the school policeman) and from what I've heard, a former military man himself. He is a strict but kind, and does a fine job of organizing and leading his little band of helpers.
Because I wasn't fully aware of the connection between the carabineros and the brigada, I was pleasantly surprised at the presence of the carabinero band in their dress whites and also the armed carabineros who stood at attention and smartly went through their paces upon command. It was really quite impressive!
It was recently explained to me that the carabineros, though they are policemen and women, are actually considered another branch of the military. Of course this makes sense given Chile's history and it also explained the formality of their presentation that day. At one point I was startled when in unison the carabineros froze in a semi-kneeling position and looked down at their belts, until I saw that they were actually sheathing their sharp knives. It all seemed so militaristic, but now I understand why.
Eva just soaked in the excitement of the morning and took her marching responsibilities seriously. She really does love being a brigadista. I asked her why and she replied, "Because we are a group in the school that is SPECIAL."
On days when the school has emergency drills, Eva and her fellow brigadistas have an important role to play as they assist in leading the younger children to safety. In fact Don Luis shared with us that while the backpacks our kids were carrying for the parade were stuffed with newspapers, they should rightly have emergency supplies such as a flashlight, first aid kit, and crackers for crying children. Hopefully that can be acquired sometime in the future.
I love Eva's smile in the picture below. She is growing up so quickly and though in many ways she still clings to her little-girl dreams and ideas, in other ways she is maturing and at times like these I catch a glimpse of the young lady she will soon become. I don't want the time to go by too quickly. Instead I want to cherish these moments and experiences and hope she, too, will hold onto sweet memories of these fleeting childhood days.