The Canadian embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay made another visit to its country’s namesake schools throughout Uruguay. Previous visits to these “Canada schools” have often focused on funding announcements or initiatives to support the schools followed by presentations by students on Uruguayan culture. This time around, embassy staff became teachers for the day and talked to the students about Canada.
The visits, scheduled around Canada Day, celebrated Canada by sharing some of its uniqueness with young Uruguayans while developing and growing the relationships already established with Canada Schools through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
Embassy staff organized and delivered educational presentations about Canada to groups of 6- to 9-year old students on topics ranging from Canadian animals, local sports, food, climate, history, geography and famous Canadians.
For example, staff talked about animals that are unique to Canada, such as the beaver, moose and loon. Because the students were convinced that the loon was no more than a Canadian duck, the staff had no choice but to imitate the loon’s cry to prove otherwise—a new challenge for the staff, but an entertaining attempt from the students’ viewpoint.
Students also laughed at a personal story that Consul Liberty Moore shared about biking through the Rocky Mountains and being almost knocked over by a moose that was running alongside him. The kids were amused by the story, as many were already familiar with this iconic Canadian animal, but they were surprised when Consul Moore explained just how fast moose could run.
The students were amazed by many of the aspects of Canada that were presented, such as the reverse seasons in the Southern and Northern hemispheres and the fact that temperatures in Canada could reach 40 degrees Celsius.
Students also related particularly well to the historic rivalry between the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Staff likened the rivalry to the two major soccer clubs in Uruguay—Peñarol and Nacional—and showed how rivalries in sports are similar all around the world.
The first of three visits was to Escuela Canadá No. 37 in the central Uruguayan town of Florida. A visit to Escuela Canadá No. 174 in La Teja, Montevideo, was organized for the Friday before Canada Day. The final visit was to the smallest and most isolated Escuela Canadá, near the village of Tala in the department of Canelones. The one-room school is located in a rural area, where many of the 13 students still come to school on horseback. In the afternoon, the community organized a performance of Uruguay’s traditional dance, the Pericon, and sang traditional songs while dressed in gaucho costumes.
Embassy staff had also raised funds to purchase markers, crayons and colouring pencils that were distributed to the students at the end of the visit.