The Teresian Association had already been present in Peru for a few years when the decision was made in 1950 to open a school in order to work with adolescents. The Teresian School opened with the three senior levels of secondary school. With the passing of time the school grew and the first classes graduated. At first it was for girls only and then it accepted boys too. It changed its name to Colegio Isabel Flores de Oliva in response to certain government regulations at that time.
Seventy years have passed, and today, in spite of the current circumstances of social isolation and quarantine due to the prevailing pandemic, we cannot fail to “celebrate, commemorate, remember and give thanks”.
A range of activities
We started our celebrations with the solidarity campaign "convida 70", with immense gratitude for what we are and have, and for the opportunity the school gives us to be of service and to work in collaboration. The joy of being able to help vulnerable families and people who have lost everything during this period of quarantine, has allowed us to be in solidarity with them and to put into practice Poveda’s phrase “you don't have to be rich to give, for it is enough to be good”.
On Sunday 23 August we began the week with Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Lima by the Archbishop of the capital, Most Rev. Carlos Castillo. He thanked the Teresian Association and the school for their contribution to the education of children, adolescents and young people and for preparing them for Christian and civic commitment.
Online sessions were held with parents and children together with teachers in which they spoke about how much they had benefitted from the CIFO and how it had contributed to the children’s development and to their lives as a family. They also discussed how Pedro Poveda’s project helped families. This was a wonderful experience for us. We became more aware of the fact that we are all journeying together and building a community of faith that can be seen by others.
In virtual environments
The members of the Student Council (COES) held some talent evenings in which students from different levels could share with the whole community. They did this through our virtual platform, and they showed their skills and capacities that had increased and been sustained during this period. We shared beautiful experiences of dance, music, gymnastics, cube-solving in the shortest time, acting, baking, etc. We also had the experience of having a "virtual gymkana" with games for the different groups, from the youngest to the oldest in the school.
It was a different way of celebrating as the games we played were meaningful and allowed us all to share in friendship, joy and collaboration. We felt close to each other in spite of distance because we know there is something that unites us.
Throughout the week we received messages, videos and letters from alumni, their parents and former teachers. People who are linked to the TA and the school brought us back in time. We became aware of the many people who were dedicated to the school over the past 70 years. They made it possible to carry out the mission of “preparing people who have their hearts and minds in the present moment”.
The week’s celebration concluded with Mass. It was a space to thank God for this experience and to give thanks for each person who has made it possible for us to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the CIFO together. We expressed gratitude to the members of the Teresian Association who have worked in the school at some point in its history. They left a “mark” of women dedicated to making Pedro Poveda’s pedagogical thought a reality. We are grateful to all those who joined this project and helped it become our second home. This community allowed us to strengthen our faith as we worked in education and prepared young people to engage in society and make the world a better place.
We then received a message from Maite Uribe, President of the Teresian Association. We are deeply grateful to her for encouraging us to continue our educational task during this difficult period, a time when the presence of the Lord is revealed in gestures of closeness and solidarity on our part. She urged us to continue preparing people to be committed Christians and citizens through the humanizing atmosphere that prevails in our school.
We were also delighted to receive a message from María Eugenia Gallego, the current Principal of our School. She reminded us of some of the key things that are present in the CIFO, things that Poveda insisted on and would never overlook, things that all who have worked in the School at some point remember to be a fundamental part of our experience.
Many would identify “family life”. We form one big family where everyone learns and shares". “At CIFO you feel at home”, people said, and aspects such as closeness, family unity, accompaniment etc. were highlighted.
Attention given to our context, society and to transformation; experience of solidarity as committed Christians; responsibility always associated with autonomy.
Love reflected in the way we treat each other and in tolerance, accompaniment, acceptance of differences, and concern for the emotional dimension of individuals and all that this involves.
After expressing profound gratitude to each and every one, Maria Eugenia ended her message with some words from our anthem that says, “We will always be united by the heritage that Poveda left us”. May this be a very real commitment.
Once again we would like to thank the Teresian Association for being here, and we thank the members who accompany us today on our journey every step of the way, for motivating us to keep going, and for being living testimony that the idea and the thought of Poveda are possible.
As we said at the beginning, it was an opportunity to “celebrate, commemorate, remember and give thanks”.
Cecilia Valdés (teacher) and Leah Sacin (parent), former students of the School in Lima. Peru.