So I was on a radio show on Friday…!!! I accompanied my host, Fernando Diaz Enciso, one of the founders of the Escuelita and Yolanda who works there and has been working there for a very long time. Fernando was being interviewed on a weekly show on the right to the city and had been invited to speak about the history and work of the Escuelita. I learnt a bit about the history of Escuelita such as how it came to be.
When people settled in Santo Domingo in what they call the invasion, there were no schools for children. Therefore, la Escuelita was set up to provide these school and extra-curricular services. I was not intending to speak on the show however. But the show host asked me questions so I had to pull my Spanish together and talk about what I am doing in Santo Domingo and what I thought about the right to the city/Escuelita. We spent quite some time on IHP (the whole programme?) talking about the right to the city but only after IHP did I realise how important of an organising principle it is in different places in the world, and really feel like I understood what it was.
On Saturday, we went to the international book fair to drop off some of my host’s books, a week-long affair in the centre of the city (el Zócalo) where different publishers have their books on display and there are fora on literary things. It was in the Plaza Mayor – and I was just wowed.
When you talk about the importance and history of a space in class, in my case in a class on colonial Latin America and on the City in Latin America, and then you get to see it- it is a bit mind-blowing. The architecture of the space- the largesse of it- the buildings that flank it- everything. It rained during the fair so I wasn’t able to walk around all of the tents- but there were very many people at the event.
I was also impressed by the setting up of the book fair. The tents were all mapped out and well organised. There was electricity cords set up for each publisher’s space, a temporary park and play area in the middle with seats and portable greenery, as well as a number of waste bins separated into organic and inorganic waste- and a whole host of people servicing the event.
I’m hoping we can have a book fair in the Escuelita because there’s a lot of books in the bookshop (which I am inventorying) that are currently not seeing the light of day…or the eyes of potential readers.