Going With The Flow
This day begins at EP Primary Sokode-Bagble with the entire school assembled under the trees in the dirt and rock strewn courtyard. The morning routine consists of lining up by grade, and saying pledges and prayers with student leaders directing. This is closed when a teacher arrives with announcements, and the drums begin to beat as the children sing and clap and dance, and then march enthusiastically toward their respective classrooms. We end up combining class 4 A & B, since there is a football match scheduled tomorrow, always a big priority here with a practice later that morning.
The children seem excited but are initially shy and quiet as we open with our circle. They take seats at their wooden desks and we talk about why it is important to be mindful of our natural world. It seems to take a little while for these students to understand, in English, what we were trying to get across but once they get it there are many good answers. Some responses include: water for drinking and bathing, trees for fruit, furniture and medicine, animals for food and security. When the projects from Ms. Evans 3rd graders at CT Walker Magnet School are shared the students examine them with great interest. As the students continue to look at the creative expressions of gratitude and love for the environment, we share in more depth about mandalas. The students are quiet and thoroughly engaged looking at the details and designs of these beautiful mandalas.
Next we hand out the variety of projects from Mrs. Bolon-Feeney’s 4th grade art students at Red Sandstone Elementary School in Colorado. The students really love the watercolors and large mandalas, and show them excitedly to their friends. We talk some more about symmetry and then handed out the templates. Initially, students want the ones that have patterns already drawn on them, but once those are gone, they easily get busy making their own. Eventually many of the students get really creative, adding pictures and otherwise individualizing their mandalas. Despite the heat, with sweat beading up on their faces, they work hard. They love having the boxes of crayons but also use colored pencils and markers to design and color their mandalas. The class works quietly and diligently to finish and write their names and what they love most about nature on the back, just like Ms. Evan’s class did.
Sokode-Bagble is a more rural suburb of Ho, so little English is spoken at home, and they seek our help in translating. Once they are finished coloring, students carefully cut their mandalas, waiting their turn to use scissors with their favorite colors on the handles, usually orange. At the end of class, letters from CT Walker students are handed out. The students are initially hesitant to pull the stickers off the back and open the letters but with a little encouragement do so. With deep concentration they read the letters out loud to each other and share them proudly with their smiling friends. Soon stickers start appearing on student’s foreheads, hands and uniforms! Next week, when we return, we will bring more materials to make the return projects for Mrs. Bolon-Feeney’s 4th graders. We will also write a group letter to Ms. Evans class then. As we say good-bye, we wish them luck with the match. We’ll look forward to seeing them next week and finding out who won.