Ed and Karen Kushner meet Jose Santos, their scholarship student, with Claribel who provided sign language interpretation.

By Kim Esterberg, reporting on a most joyous celebration on Ometepe

We began our celebration of the Sister Islands Association’s 30th anniversary with a special dinner prepared at the home of Dora Gutierrez, our office manager in Altagracia.  The dinner was for the entire delegation who came for the 30th, as well as the photo delegation. It was in the spirit of delegations welcomed by Dora’s mother, a long and special tradition.

On the day of the celebration people filtered down to Ruben Dario school to help prepare for the event. Posters showing the Sister Islands Association’s timeline with photographs was placed along an entire wall of the school. The stage area and the outdoor seating areas were prepared.

Dancers wait their turn at the 30th anniversary celebration.

When we arrived for the event at 2pm, people were still setting up and people were filtering in. By 3 everybody had arrived and I would estimate it was 150 people. We opened with a benediction and then Jorge Espinoza, the teacher who had been part of the 30th delegation from Ometepe, was our master of ceremonies. We sang the national anthems of both countries and then we had some short speeches. Ela and I were firs. We were followed by a wonderful speech by Francisco Alvarez, who stayed with the theme that, above all else, we were celebrating the many friendship connections between the islanders on both islands.

“Welcome to the celebration of 30 years of sisterhood of Bainbridge and Ometepe”

Then we had three folkloric dance presentations. The first was by a group including two girls with special needs. It was moving and very delightful. Then some kindergarten students danced, and finally Hendrickson (Dora’s son) and a friend from Granada put on a very polished dance.

We were then asked to move all the furniture to the area between two of the school buildings and we enjoyed a chance to visit with one another, as well as enjoy a wonderful buffet that had been prepared for us. In this area Karla Varela and Siri Kushner had put together a slide presentation, and it was running, and folks had a chance to read the timeline, as well as review posters that folks have created for Karla’s workshops on sexual abuse.

It was a wonderful and very festive event. Some of the delegates that visited Bainbridge were the most involved in the celebration on Ometepe.