I arrived at the Preuniversitario where it was held around noon and was immediately asked where I’m from. I felt a little defensive and said that Raquel had invited me and hoped it would be ok if I could just stand in the back and watch. And then I realized the woman had asked me because all of the other audience members had pin on badges that announced what country they are from. Chile and Peru dominated the group of 50, but there were a few small nametag-sized Bolivian, Ecuadorian, and Colombian flags pinned to shirts as well. Unfortunately there were no United States pins on hand, but they were happy to have me. The chairs were all full, so I stood along the back and watched a slide projection on the front wall. There were pictures of Alto Hospicio and various local groups interspersed with graphical slogans such as “12 de octubre, 2013: 521 años de resistencia” [521 years of resistance] and “Por la dignidad de los pueblos americanos, 12 de octubre nada que celebrar” [For the dignity of american peoples, 12 October is nothing to celebrate].
As the last local leader was speaking, Raquel came and stood next to me at the back. She asked if I could stay for the reception afterwards because she’d like to introduce me to a few people. I accepted and met several of the people she works with at the Preuniversitario along with being coerced into eating plenty of bocadillos, ceviche, and grilled shrimp.
As the reception was ending, Raquel’s friend Juan called everyone to the back room to take a photo. I lingered in the front room, but he singled me out saying “You too, Nell. You’re from the Americas. We need our representative from the United States present.” So I followed the crowd to the back, where we rearranged ourselves a number of times against a backdrop of handpainted paper flags, and finally got a decent shot (well, you can be the judge).