Tuesday, July 28, 2009

June 4

On Thursday Alex and I went to the Yallahs Basic School; this was our secondary work site. Alex and I taught art class to three, four and five year olds. Our first day was chaos. When we arrived at the school, all the kids were peeking through the open air slats in their class rooms to catch a glimpse at their visitors. We were exhausted from the attention already.
On this particular Thursday we taught the kids about colors and had them draw rainbows. We also played 'I Spy..' with them. They had a lot of fun telling Alex and I their favorite colors and trying to find them around the classroom. After the two three-year-old classrooms it was time for their morning break. All the kids either played or took a nap; Alex and I wandered to a deserted room to rest for a few quiet minutes.
We were sitting on the floor in the lunch room looking at posters on the wall when this caught my eye.

It is a poster explaining how you can't contract HIV. As you can see, the poster depicts common activities involving young children..A mosquito bite, sharing food, sharing utensils, sleeping in the same bed and playing with friends. This poster landed on me like a huge weight. It made me realize that HIV is a real fear among not only sexually active adults, but also young school children. I don't think I even knew what HIV was until I was 13. Also, all the other posters on the wall were handmade, but this one was manufactured. It is disheartening knowing that this poster is on the walls of schools across the island and from the looks of its design other African countries as well. I can't imagine the how it would feel to worry about HIV as a young child, the threat was unbeknownst to me. Although I am happy that this poster is available to educate the school kids, I'm sad to know it is needed. Before I could spend too much time thinking about this poster, little kiddies were peeking in the empty lunch room, which meant break time was over.

Alex and I then visited the four-year-old classrooms. It was easier to work with the older children because they are obviously more advanced, but it is also easier to understand them. Its hard to communicate with young kids to begin with, but when you are dealing with a language barrier it seems almost impossible. It was also hard to give the kids instruction or discipline because most of them didn't understand plain English. The four year olds were better than the younger kids at naming colors and grasping the concept of ROY G. BIV. When we got to the five year olds they totally surprised us. I guess I never realized how quickly kids develop that early in life; there were clear differences and advancements throughout every age group. The five year olds knew all their colors and wanted to have their colors in order. They even wrote ROY G. BIV on their papers without instruction or encouragement from Alex and I. After six classrooms of kids who just want to talk and touch I was definitely exhausted, but I knew I wanted to go back in a heartbeat. As everyone was leaving for the day kids were giving me flowers, drawings and even their taxi fares. I still have pressed flowers and I can remember the two cuties who gave them to me. I loved being with all the kiddies. Besides how ridiculously cute they all looked in their uniforms, it was nice to get so much attention and love from little babes.

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