UGH! Mini rant: I was charged with controlling IT this morning for assembly, and I was COMPLETELY incompetent. Everyone here uses PCs/Windows, and I could not for the life of me figure out how to move the Verbal Emancipation video I could see playing from the laptop screen to the projector viewing mode. (For the record, nobody else could either.) So unfortunately, after all that last-minute stress yesterday, we weren't even able to show it. Luckily we still screened the Mega Bowl teaser on a different computer, and the Harvards announced an upcoming game of Capture the Flag we're organizing for this weekend! And since the Verbal Emancipation performance is next Friday, we still have next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday assemblies to eventually show the video—it was just a bit of unnecessary stress for 7am.
Basically I left assembly feeling kind of technologically challenged. I'm half hoping that no one turned around to the back of the hall to see that I was the one struggling, but ahh well.
Anyways. Today was our busiest day of the 6-day cycle. We ran our first cultural literacy class with the two students who are finishing their last year of high school abroad (one at Taft in the US, and one at a Beijing Academy), attended sandwich break (amen), spoke about the college application process to the Lower 6s, whose class we're taking over, sat in on the Middle 6 class, chatted with kids in the library, and then I tutored a girl I'm meeting with twice a rotation.
Major news came up during a Top Achievers meeting that's unofficial but would have such a huge impact on the students. I don't want to start any trouble so I won't say much about it, but it has to do with the Ministry of Education here and the possibility of students no longer receiving funding to study abroad and/or attend college. A girl I've gotten to know over the past few days came over to me after the announcement and gave me a huge hug, and I took her out to the hallway as she cried and processed the (potential) news. Even leaving the AV center, I saw another girl wiping her eyes, so I really hope this is a rumor and will sort itself out. :( When we hear anything official, I'll explain in more detail, because it will completely affect the education trajectories of these kids who have all worked so hard to 1) be here at MaP, and 2) attend university someday.
Next a lunch of a puffy white starch (a friend told me it's made with regular flour, yeast, and water), small chunks of beef on bones, and salad. And after that was my first day of Community Art!
Community Art is a SPE that Susan, one of the PiAFs, started last term. Around forty students come together on Thursdays and sometimes Saturdays to paint murals around the school, and have gotten suuper into it. Since Susan is leaving on Monday, and no other teacher has stepped forward to take over the SPE, she and the head of SPEs asked if I could lead it until the end of this term. Naturally I said yes, though I question 1) my painting abilities, and 2) my ability to guide forty loud, excited students playing with tons of enamel paint in creating something to beautify the school. The project we'll be working on together has to do with stencils, as it sounds like we could potentially get permission to paint environmental awareness art on trash cans around campus. The man in charge would like to see a prototype first, and we definitely don't have enough time to design and finish an additional mural to the one we're finishing up now, so I think pitching that idea for a future term (if a teacher steps up to the plate to spearhead the SPE) will comprise the majority of my time with Community Art over the next few weeks.
And being out there with the kids today was AMAZING. It felt SO INCREDIBLY GOOD to feel the paint and get dirty in the dry afternoon sun. I painted kids' feet to make footprints and helped artfully drizzle other colors and blend swirls on people's hands. One funny moment was when a girl asked if I wanted a heart painted on my shirt, and since I was just wearing a random gray tshirt I let her paint a bright red heart on my shoulder blade. Little did I know that the paint would soak right through my shirt, and when I was about to jump into the shower to try and get rid of the smell of turpentine Siqi thought I had some horrible bloody wound on my back. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!! I'm a bit nervous about handling all the kids at once, mostly, but I love love LOVE this kind of thing. Like really love it a lot. It's so beautiful to relax and just chat and hang out with the kids while they're painting outside, and everyone seems to just take a big breath of calm and comfort. Thank goodness for art.
I witnessed three touching moments come out of this, too:
- The kids were all slightly panicking when the paint didn't easily wash off their hands, and the 40 of us took turns (which sounds orderly but was really chaos) dipping our fingers in turpentine and using the one water spigot outside. One girl was visibly anxious about her mom seeing her so dirty, and a boy in the class took the one sponge and super sweetly began scrubbing purple off her palms.
- Susan had to run to a parent-teacher meeting, so I was in charge of carrying boxes of jars of paint and all the canvases back to the girls' annex. Two Form 2 girls helped me carry a canvas while I carried one of the boxes; and while I think they both would've been too shy to introduce themselves to one of us Harvards normally, we connected in a really positive way as they described some anxiety over a science class and the parent-teacher meeting tonight. When we said goodbye, they were both ridiculously thankful for that time spent together, and I hope to work on fostering more friendships with students (especially younger ones) who aren't as bold about introducing themselves to me normally.
- As I was walking with the two Form 2 girls, we ran into two Form 2 boys who asked if we needed help with the stuff we were carrying. Since we were super close to the annex, I thanked them and explained that we were transporting things from the mural-in-progress but pretty much there with this trip; and we went our separate ways. THEN, as one of the girls and I walked back to get the next trip of stuff, who did we see but the two boys who had walked out of their way to the lockers in order to help us out. It was so kind! And saved us at least two more trips.
Clearly a huge fan of Community Art already.
What else for today? By the time Community Art ended, it was close to 5pm. Heba and I made a quick Choppies trip (P94 for a bar of chocolate, oatmeal, some cookies, a bag of raisins, two bags of Lays chips, and a package of cheese) and then enjoyed MY FAVORITE DINNER WE'VE HAD SO FAR in the school caf. It was chicken pies with beans and salad...SO GOOD!!! I took a photo but I'm saving it for the upcoming food-focused post. It was also quite the lively meal tonight with the other interns, an RL boy, and a new Middle 6 student who's super interested in Harvard. After dinner I showered, played Settlers of Catan with the Harvards and RL boys (which evolved into me abandoning Siqi and way too excitedly showing Harsh some of my favorite videos on YouTube—truly a time warp), and then had boarding house duty. I watched a South African drama called "Ring of Lies" with a few of the girls before checking them into their rooms and returning to the annex to eat cookies in my bed!
A very solid day. This week has absolutely FLOWN by. And I'm excited for the weekend! Good night for now. :)