Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rain, paint, and letting it out...

June 23, 2009

Monsoon finally hit today. It is no longer a myth in my mind…

I immediately noticed the change in traffic. With the rains our commute is even longer- about 2 hours. When we arrived lucky for us the rains had just stopped.
Walking through the slum was incredibly muddy- but not flooding thank god. Gangadhar later told us that only a few months ago did these main roads in the slum shape up- that before then it was very difficult to walk down the roads during monsoon time.

At the school we started by having the kids act out what they had been learning in class from us. This was an idea suggested by Manjul so that these kids would be reflecting on their own experiences and turning it into a performance. We told them that they could act out us, which they ended up doing. Some volunteers went up and first acted out what we were doing exactly at that moment (I was sitting videotaping, Sriya was sitting watching, etc.) Then another group imitated the skit that we had performed last week. So, instead of creating a performance based on their learning necessarily, they copied the skit we had done. Although this wasn’t really the objective, it still worked on confidence in performing.

During the break we prepared the materials for the painting exercise. All the kids gathered around as we poured the paints onto the paper plates…anticipating.
Each group had the task of creating a collage of images regarding their specific topic (one had gender discrimination, cleanliness and education). Again, the activity didn’t go exactly as planned. The kids drew more of what was on their mind it seemed, rather than on the topic. But in the end we put up three posters with all the kids drawings on them. It stretched their creativity in another artistic way after all of this theatre!

Then came one of my favorite times. We had them play a game from “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” an American t.v. show. Each group gets a prop and, using their creativity, have to come up with many different usages of the object. One group had the classroom broom, the other the classroom dustpan, and the last group a Lego piece. Left picture: Sriya with the kids painting on the topic of Education

Each group had to brainstorm ideas of usages, and then as a mini competition we went from group to group and each time a group member had to say what the object was and show the group what it was (by acting with this imaginary object). I have led and played this activity with people of all ages, and it is always a great hit. Here imagination flew- coming up with endless amount of usages. I loved the fact that they could now see ordinary objects from their everyday lives in a different light- as more. For the kids the dustpan no longer is just a dustpan.

The energy was at such a high.. It was difficult disciplining them, but I do think that the kids understand that when we hold each other’s hands and form a circle that they must pay attention because it is a transition to a new activity.

I noticed that at one point Gayatri had taken a straw from a kid and thrown it out the window of the school (so it landed on the rooftop outside of the window). I was baffled. I understand that culturally maybe awareness of the effects of littering may not be that high, but as a class have been discussing cleanliness and hygiene for the past week. As teachers are role models for the children, won’t the children follow their teacher’s lead in littering? This is just like when the kids said that a lot of them hit each other during a fight, when they also shared that their parents hit while fighting. Trickling down…

It was time for SCRIPT! After class, two boys ended up staying after to talk more abouo their experiences. One ended up talking with us for about 45 minutes all about his home life experiences. It included a lot of domestic abuse, and was hard to listen to (I heard the translation afterwards). The others told me that it was a strange experience for them hearing a boy this young telling these stories in such a “manner of fact” way. My friends asked: “ did he even understand what he was saying?”

Manjul is right in saying that these kids have all the survival skills.

I am thinking now about all the kids in the class, and how we have only heard the personal accounts of one of them in depth. If only we had the time to sit with each child, and make them comfortable enough to voice these stories. It is therapy in and of itself to just tell someone else these life experiences, even if it doesn’t come in play format. To voice these stories, and be listened to is the first step. This kid kept saying “let me tell you more”, he needed to talk.

We voiced our concerns and questions about the script with Manjul later. I asked if it is ok if the script is based on the stories of only one child. He said that as long as we write it in third person, then it is fine because it most likely echoes the stories of most of the children in the class. Also, telling these stories to the other kids tomorrow might inspire others to share.

The kids are getting progressively clingier and attached to us. I am excited to see what happens tomorrow with getting lines from the kids for the script. I hope they will work off each other’s ideas.

I don’t know what challenges these rains bring in terms of performing outside on Monday. I guess time will tell!

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