It was a nice and sunny Friday afternoon. Five volunteers from Conviven entered the villa at 2pm, accompanied by a helper.
It is a ten minutes walk until the little community hall in which we hold our class. On the way I see pools of dirty water and open garbage bags on the dusty road, as well as handfuls of children wandering about, or playing with the town's many stray dogs. In front of our classroom door there are some children playing with mud and pieces of bricks and other construction materials.
Minutes after we announce the beginning of the class, children come bustling in. We all stand hand in hand and form a big circle, encouraging everyone to join. They are mostly young boys and girls.
Some of the girls carry their toddler siblings in their arms. Our circle is so big that it almost spills outside of the classroom. An excellent start! As a warm-up before the class, we introduced our names and named a country we would like to visit the most.
When our volunteers expressed their wish to visit more exotic places like Tibet and China, our students shared a good round of laugh. Most of them would rather visit the United States.
Our volunteers split the class into two groups according to the age. Benjamin and Maria were in charge of the toddlers and young children under 10 years old. Janna and Eugenie took the older group.
We began the class with the “name game”. The game is designed to make the students, as well as us teachers, to introduce and familiarise ourselves with each other, as we constantly have different faces each week. It is also a fast-paced and energetic game that helps our children shake off their initial shyness.
As the children’s sounds grew gradually louder, eventually to excited screams, it was finally time for us to begin with our second game, “Luz rojo”. It is a classic kid’s game. We volunteers typically act as umpires, picking out those who don’t manage to completely “freeze” and driving them back to the starting spot.
The finale of the class was an exhilarating game of tag. Everybody big and little ran and chased each other in the open space outside the classroom. Here is our volunteer Benjamin, just having been tagged by those two little ruthless star players.
Our objective was to take a step toward establishing a regular theatre class within the villa for children. In this second class we learnt more about our new and existing students, the environment of teaching and the neighbourhood.
We discovered that the ages of our students vary greatly and that most of them are not used to a form of discipline and supervision. We also discovered that they are all full of healthy energy and curiosity, and that there exists a great bond among the children toward one another.
It will be a long, challenging journey until we get to see our students on stage, in the premiere of their first theatre work - but we have no doubt it will be one filled with excitements and new discoveries. At least, no matter what, everyone will get to have fun.
(Thanks to our volunteer Nicole for her photos.)