With Our Own Two Hands

The symbolism of a butterfly is the potential of transformation; which is exactly what these projects have the power of accomplishing.  We are lucky enough to witness the transformations of bland classrooms into colorful environments and the growth of students, trained to work in unison, into individually creative artists.  Perhaps it is this symbolism that made us enjoy the project from the 2nd Grade classes of Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Browning at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.  The faces of the students here flooded with astonishment as they realized that the paper wings they were given were the outlined hands of their friends in America.  The children beamed as they held their hands in the air to find the shape of their own butterfly.  It was a moment of hands touching hands, and hearts reaching out to hearts, from 6,000 miles away.  The students worked together to trace each other’s fingers before picking up colored pencils to decorate their personal wingspans with nature scenes, animal habitats, and celestial skies. When we returned to the classroom several days later, we were elated to see that the vibrant butterflies from America adorned the back of the room.

This special project was not only a practice in being stewards of the environment, but also a way of reminding the pupils that we are all dependent on each other in ways, both big and small. These young students wordlessly demonstrated our previous messages of friendship, peace, and community and we were quick to witness similar behavior across the larger community.

The students at the RC Mixed School in Ho worked in quite partnership with one another to make Earth Peace Flags in exchange with Riverside Middle School in Evans, Georgia.  The most impactful message that we shared with the students here – through the wonderful flags from the U.S. – was that each individual is able to take ownership and responsibility for the places that he or she loves in nature.  The pupils were pushed to not only think about what nature gives them, but what they can give nature in return… with the care of their “own two hands”.  There were messages of peace, love, and gratitude mixed in with an awareness of our environment. While the students struggled with the language barrier, their concern for the Earth definitely improved.  They decorated their flags with brightly colored animals and nature scenes, including beaches, rivers, mountains, trees and flowers.  The students here were excited by the plethora of marker options and did not feel limited by realistic representations; a sun can be purple, a tree can be pink.

Some students were compelled, after contemplating the idea that the world belongs to everyone, to write special messages to specific friends with whom they have had previous contact.  Others were personally inspired by what their American friends had created and many adopted the same sentiment for their own Earth Peace Flag creation. They were obviously touched by images of beaches, mountains, and rivers that they have not seen in real life, but were exposed to by the drawings of their friends.

Pride for their country was shown in some very patriotic flags that had hands colored to look like the Ghanaian flag, with yellow, red, and green and a black star in the palm.  The heartfelt connection to the United States was also reflected in messages wishing their American friends well and expressing their hope to visit them in the States someday.