Another business volunteer, Helen Ho, and I at the end of the workshop. We gave all the participants certificates and sodas. They were so excited!
The World Map...well...the world map was an interesting project. I had never worked with the students (boy and girls) by myself and in large numbers. I would imagine that giving paint to middle schoolers in the US would be stressful enough, but the kids here?!?! WOW! I will first say that the map does look like a map. I think everyone at the school is impressed that it turned out like it did. I guess for us anal Americans it was a bit difficult. Kids were flinging paint around, about 20 new islands just appeared in the Pacific Ocean, and congratulations Hawaii you have just been upgraded to continent-size! I about smacked those children a hundred times. They are passing and dropping paint across the map like they were trying to imitate a Jackson Pollock painting. It was almost more than my nerves could handle. Thank goodness I had my friend and fellow volunteer (in the education sector), Rose Kanasty, there to help me. She has been teaching lovely little monsters like these for the past 2 years...so she knows how to handle them. I am WAY too nice...and the saying "give an inch, and they'll take a mile" has never been more appropriate than here with children. She helped me set ground rules, communicate with the kids, and be the "bad cop" of the two of us. I still have about one whole days work to make it presentable...but I am going to fix all the mistakes, and then this Monday we are going to have a presentation ceremony at the school. Even with all the frustrations...It was fun to see the kids pick up a paint brush and be artistic for a while.
The school garden project on the other hand didn't really go so well. The Africare representative came out to my village to look at our site, and to talk about how to proceed. No matter how many times I told my school director that they weren't going to offer financial assistance he seemed not to listen. So, again, during the meeting he asked what they were going to provide financially. Once he realized nothing he turned on me, as if this was entirely my idea, and basically said that they never really wanted a garden in the first place, that students don't know what they want, and that it's too expensive. I just sat in my chair...totally embarrassed for wasting this NGO's time and mine...and for feeling like an idiot. Because of this perpetuation of, "well, if we just wait, a NGO will come and give us money to fix our problems," it has perpetuated this laziness and greed in people. "Why take the time and effort to fix anything when eventually some aid organization will come and fix it for me?" or "what am I getting out of this monetarily?" Everyone wants their fair share, and sometimes I just get tired of it. I may be becoming an aid worker who doesn't believe in giving aid!?! If people just sit around waiting for the "white people" to roll in and fix everything they will never do anything for themselves, and will never feel true ownership for what they do accomplish. There is a big difference on how you treat a car that someone gave you as a gift, and a car that you financed yourself...and the same goes for development in rural areas. I am slowly believing that aside from the passing of knowledge these people are completely capable of helping themselves, and should be forced to do just that. Not to sound mean, but desperation breeds innovation in a lot of ways...
Anyways...off my soapbox. For the most part this past week passed amazingly well, and I really feel good about some of the things that I have accomplished. They say that the 2nd year of service is much more fruitful...and I am already feeling the effects of that. Well, I guess I have to sign off and return to village. My mom comes in 3 weeks, so that is something to definietly look forward to. WOO HOO! I miss you all...stay close!