By Jason Fajardo.
It was the 29th of July at 9pm in the town of Amaiur. The whole village was quiet and one can only hear the sounds of nature and whispers between the participants. Every single one of us were focused on the task at hand, as we were all determined to finish our work and show the townspeople something they can be truly proud of. The halls where we worked on, became cluttered and messy. Papers were loittered everywhere, pencils and pens were on the floor, eraser and pencil shavings were scattered on the tables, and yet no one seemed to care. We were on a race against time and there was nothing in our minds except to finish our work.
Out of the deafening silence, mounting tension and stress, calls were heard; it was finally time for dinner. Usually, when it was time for dinner, we get ecstatic. This time, however, we were all drained from the work we have been doing for the past two weeks.
The moment we got into the dining hall, people were setting up the speakers, the tv, and a laptop for karaoke later on. Most of us were inside the hall when multiple unfamiliar faces started to go in as well. I realized that a few members town were going to be with us that chilly night. We all had a good time during dinner. The meal was amazing as usual thanks to Mariano and Isabel, along with their friends and families who served and cooked for us these past two weeks. Dinner time was over and it was finally time for Karaoke Night.
Most of us have waited a long time for a moment where we can all just relax, without thinking about work, even for a few hours. The fist ones to sing were the Spanish group. Next in line were the Filipinos, Basque, English, and Chinese participants. We all sang and danced around the dining hall without a single care in the world. We sang to songs we couldn’t even understand and danced to melodies and rhythms unfamiliar to our ears. We were there to enjoy the night and each other’s company, for this was the last night that all of us will ever be together as a whole. This night was the first night I ever got to see the group without a single thought in mind except to have fun. Even though there were a lot of moments where we enjoyed ourseleves and laughed heartily, nothing seems to compare to the joy that night brought us. That same night, some of us went back to work while some prepared for the presentation the next day.
It was a bright day in Amaiur and the participants were still working hard early in the morning while the townspeople have started gathering inside the building. We have just prepared the exhibition hall for the gallery; tables were set, printed boards were put together, and everything was arranged accordingly. The only thing that was left were the works of some groups still doing their final touches. All of us finished eventually and placed our works inside the exhibition hall. The members of the town gathered inside the hall along with the participants and professors. We couldn’t believe that we were able to do so much in such a short amount of time. The past two weeks were admittedly exhausting, but after seeing everyone’s faces and expressions as they walked around the room, seeing the final output for the first time, took away all the exhaustion and replaced it with joy and amazement. We were all in awe of what was happening because we haven’t seen each other’s work until we finished preparing the exhibition.
Later on, Alejandro Garcia Hermida, one of the professors that was with us during the entirety of this journey said a few words to the participants, the townspeople, and everyone who made the Navarre Summer School Program possible. After that, the participants were called up on stage to recieve their certificate of participation. Each one of us went up and shook hands and greeted our professors with a big smile on our faces. We turned around to the crowd gathered that day and was greeted with warm applause.
After the ceremony, we all went downstairs to the plaza and took as much pictures and videos as we can- there was no time to waste. We took more pictures, selfies, videos, cracked jokes, made funny faces and noises;
and in the end, when all the celebration was starting to subside, we came to a realisation that these wonderful two weeks was truly coming to an end.
We packed our bags and went into the dining hall for one last meal. It was a picnic style meal which was very different from what we were used to. We went around the hall, talked to our friends, and bonded over delicious food. Us Filipinos were even able to introduce a local dessert called Mais con Yelo (Maíz con Hielo) which is a concoction of sweetcorn, milk, sugar, sometimes with condensed milk, mixed with shaved ice. We said our final goodbyes to those who cooked, served, and prepared for us; thanking them for all their hard work. It was time to go back to Madrid. We boarded the bus and said farewell to those who were not coming with us. As the bus went on towards the city, I marveled the architecture, landscape, and scenery of the beautiful Baztan Valley for one last time. I stared outside the bus window -smiling, hoping to take it all in and store it inside my mind. I’m not sure whether I will ever get the chance to go back again, so I took this time to appreciate every single detail.
We arrived at Madrid late in the evening; it was a tiring yet fulfilling day. We disembarked the bus, got our luggages, and bid farewell to our peers. We enjoyed these last few moments together. All of us went around and hugged each other, took photos and selfies, cracked up a few jokes, and said our final goodbyes.This truly was one of the best two weeks of my life. It was the perfect ending to a perfect summer school experience.