An absolutely wonderful day.
After a teacher took over a lesson the interns typically lead, this morning has been the lightest morning of classes I've had so far. So after waking up in time for breakfast (for the second day in a row!) and a LOUD assembly advertising an upcoming interhouse drama competition, I decided the best way to be productive would be to address the laundry problem I've been avoiding for the past three weeks.
Every Tuesday, a cleaning woman comes to our annex and asks if we have any laundry for her to collect. While it sounds awesome and super convenient, I've been doing my own laundry since middle school; and it feels weird for me to have someone else cleaning my clothes. So without really thinking it through, I've always said "no, thank you" and planned on doing my own on some weekend. However, my socks (always the limiting factor of clothing) were officially all dirty as of yesterday, which meant that the time had come.
There's exactly one washing machine for all the girls in the boarding house, and there are two problems with this: 1) it's always in use, and 2) it doesn't take the liquid detergent I'm used to from home, so I don't know how to use it. This second issue kind of fixed itself when I realized that the powder detergent that Heba and I purchased to share was labeled "hand wash." So in order to avoid learning how to use the washing machine that may or may not be available (and that we've also heard from the PiAFs ruins your clothes), I opted instead to hand wash everything.
As I soon found out, hand washing clothes is HORRIBLE. I didn't really mind it this morning since I didn't have any other responsibilities, but it literally took FOUR HOURS to fill our dinky bucket with water, mix in some detergent, soak two or three items of clothing at a time, squeeze the water and suds out, rinse it in our shower, and then wring the thing out and hang it up to dry wherever I could find space on a shared drying rack or railings over our stairs (there are no dryers).
I also spilled water all over our bathroom and had to mop it up once I finished doing half my clothes and gave up on the rest—I found out from Harsh and Jazil, who've both been putting their laundry out on Tuesdays, that it comes back within a few hours washed, dried, and ironed; and so I suspect that will be the way to go for the rest of the summer.
Next, I had made plans with a student to venture to a mall for lunch. She's been telling me about the city and planned an excursion with a few friends to show me and any other interns a taste of Gabs; but unfortunately, it ended up falling through. I had to start setting up for Community Art by 2pm (and Heba and Siqi, who were interested, also had tutoring at 2pm), but by the time the students were gathered and ready to go we wouldn't have had enough time to get there and back via combi. So caf food it was! And we're hoping to reschedule to next week.
Not gonna lie, I was a bit nervous about leading Community Art by myself for the first time this week. Susan, the PiAF who started it, left on Monday, after super quickly showing me where all the supplies (buckets of paints, turpentine, drop cloths, stencils, Xacto knives, mixing cups, plastic spoons, poster board, canvases, tracing paper, attendance papers, etc.) were. Straight after lunch, I headed back to the annex to go through everything and make sure I was ready. I separated out the enamel paints and painting supplies for a few kids who would continue working on the mural, and then got together the stenciling materials for the rest of the group who would be designing stencils for an art-as-activism project. (We're hoping to show prototypes of some spray painted designs pertaining to the environment that could go on trash cans around campus to administrators by the end of this term.)
And it went SO WELL! Since I'm only here until the end of this term of SPEs, I really want to make sure the students have complete say in what direction they want Community Art to go, as well as experience and confidence in running it. This is especially important because not only is art not particularly valued (over math or science, for example) by the general populace, but there has also been some resistance at MaP to Community Art painting murals since it's messy and they don't look good until they're done. So the students have already faced public criticism, and going forward they might need to run their group (if no teacher steps up) in the face of people trying to shut them down,
As a result, besides quieting people down at the beginning, I let a leadership team take over and divide the class into groups (set-up, paint, and clean-up...even though clean-up crew mysteriously disappeared before actually cleaning up), and then floated throughout the day from group to group chatting and making sure everyone had what they needed. It was so beautiful. I felt 110% in my element, helping people fish out the mixing spoons that had accidentally fallen into paint cans and getting to know students while rinsing our hands with turpentine or working together to fold massive drop cloths. One of my favorite parts was hearing the gossip on a few Form 2 girls' love lives while watching them stencil; and another was getting an extremely sweet and slightly shy Form 3 boy to smile after committing to badgering him until he did so. Basically all the Community Art students are now some of my favorite kids, and I loved laughing with them and doing what I could to help them create things they could be proud of—definitely a highlight of my week thus far! :)
Feeling so comfortable in this environment—and also having heard Susan talk about her experiences and opportunities as an art teacher at international schools around the world—makes me wonder what that future might look like for me. But then I remember all the other things I want and love to do, and question everything, and ultimately am thankful I have more time to figure the rest of my life out.
By the time a few extra-committed students and I finished cleaning up, it was too late for me to really do anything besides bum around and wait for dinner. I chatted with Jazil, Ian, and the student who invited me to Camphill for a while, answered a few questions about SATs, and then went for a super short run around the empty track.
After dinner, we interns realized that our weekend might be too busy to really go out, so Jazil, Harsh, Jocelyn, Siqi, Zach, Ian, and I caught cabs to Riverwalk. We got an awesome round booth table at my favorite lounge we've been to, and spent the next few hours talking and laughing. I think it's been one of our deepest nights of intern bonding thus far, and I left feeling like I understood where everyone came from a bit better. Siqi and I continued a conversation that started there through our cab ride home and in the hallway of our annex, and then it was time for bed!
Very happy with so much of today! Already looking forward to much more art and bonding, and much less hand washing.