Archive forSeptember, 2011

Due to the floodings there was no possibility to go to school during the last week. We were supposed to draw the trunk of the “Tree of wishes” on the weekend(the kids would use their handprints as leaves and then create their individual handprint the way they want using white wallpaint), but there was no way we could have gotten to the village, because the roads were all under water. We heard from different sides that the wooden houses (normally standing on pillars) looked like islands in the water. Even on our normal schooldays the road to school would scare us with its deep muddy holes, that sometimes required us to get out of the Tuktuk and walk some part of the way. So now we decided we would not take the risk to go at the moment.
While staying in town and watching the vehikels transform into waterresistent boatlike machines (some motos now had a tube in their exhaust so it would be possible to go through the very deep parts, where the water would almost drown the whole moto), we started figuring out a new plan to finish the project in a way that would still support the funding idea of it and make it possible for us to leave something behind still, even though the last lessons leading to the “celebration” were now cancelled.
During the two months in Siem Reap we realized that a project like “Giving Life A Name” required more preparing towards training the teachers that are working with us, as they are the main bridge to the children when they translate our ideas to them. It is not enough to just have the words translated that we are telling them, but it is necessary to train them in the basic ideas of the philsosophy of arts, its purposes and benefits and especially concerning this project in the understanding of the importance that we see in the project and the reasons for doing it.
After we leave Siem Reap our project will be the starting point for a new artclass in school, that will take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They will be tought by the Trainee-teachers who helped us translating during our classes. As this idea of a regular artclass is very new for “First Steps School” we were thinking about a way to support the development of these classes. We now decided that I, Eva, will come back in Febuary to have a workshop with the Art-teachers for about two weeks to train them in basic artskills like drawing, painting and the use of nature materials and to also support teambuilding qualities that will help them to work together and create new ideas for the coming semester and to increase their abilities as art-teachers. Since this workshop will take place about 5 months after the project there will be space during the workshop to talk about the problems that came up during the first 5 months of teaching arts and the ideas that they developed. The workshop is supposed to be a training for the teachers to improve their artskills and their work on “First Steps School”.
For us it has become obvious that it is more necessary to have trainings for the artteachers then doing a project with the children ourselves, because it will guarantee that the idea behind it will become sustainable and be integrated in the life at school and even in the village after we left.
Right now using our time that is left to plan the workshop in Febuary focussing on teaching artskills, the reflection on the past 5 months and new ideas for a future lessonplan. We think that it will be possible to do a two week workshop about twice a year. It will take place in a space seperated from school so it will be guaranteed to be a seperated training to improve your personal skills and ideas away from school. I want to work with the teachers in a group of four, so we can have discussions about problems, wishes and ideas and create new plans for the future together.
The project “Giving Life A Name” has been a wonderful experience for us. We learned how much creativity the children and the teachers have and how much everybody enjoyed expressing themselves. It is good to know, that the project is the start for a continuing artclass at “First Steps School” and we are very thankful to be given the possibility for an arts and philosophy project by “Stepping Stones Cambodia”. We want to keep on supporting this idea by our workshops that we will individually prepare for the teachers and keep in touch with “Stepping Stones Cambodia” to create a new connection between the “University of Hildesheim” and “First Steps School” to combine the ideas of our students with the ones of the teachers in Kok Thnot. Arts is a language that is understood even without words and that communicates our deeper thoughts, because it expresses the source for our ideas that is found inside of us. We hope to have given an insight of what arts can be like and to have opened up new ways of expression. We are exited to see how the artclasses wil develop till Febuary and we will keep exchanging ideas till then. This project is now the source for something new that is about to grow and raise. It is good to have this knowledge to be ready to leave.


Siem Reap getting flooded 11.09.2011




Todays lesson required some space inside the little bamboohut, that had become a colourful place during the past few weeks. We were unfolding the plasticfoil on the ground and took away all the benches. Today we would all sit on the floor to paint the bedsheets that we had brought all the way from Germany, because we were told that they would be quite expensive to buy in Cambodia (during the securitycheck on the airport i had secretely wished for them to open my bag and find two bedsheets and wodden beads on their way to South East Asia).
After the bedsheet was put on the floor, the children took on their now well known raincoats, that were partly torn from the lessons before as they are made of really thin plasticfoil and rubberbands.
The children circled the white cloth and waited for instructions. The paint was filled into small bowls and put in front of them. Each one of the 20 children was holding a brush in her/his hands, ready to go.

The bedsheets are supposed to be painted with images or thoughts they have towards the feeling of being home, being secure and safe, feeling comfortable and happy. These feelings painted on the cloth would create the “outside-wall” of the tipi, that we want to build out of it afterwards. This tent should create a new space of security for them, a small place, where they can hide and actually be protected by their own thoughts and associations towards the feeling of being home that they painted.
While translating I already recognised that the real idea didnt really get through to the children. There was an understanding for drawing their home and something that makes them happy, but it didnt become clear, that their images were just supposed to create a new space as a tent for them afterwards, that would allow these feelings.
I was told, that in Khmer there is no word for “feeling home”, that there is just the word for “home”.
In the end the idea was understood as they started painting places in nature that made them happy, hammocks, that would allow them to have a quiet moment or flowers, that were so beautiful to them, that they gave them a feeling of comfort. The trainee teacher and me were asking for the meaning of the images painted and heard of stars at night, that made them sleep better and chickenfights in the village, that made them laugh.
The cloth got more and more colourful and i joined the silent bunch of children painting. We were sitting shoulder on shoulder and saw the colours fit together to a big mixture of thoughts and memories.
When the brushes were cleaned and the raincoats were put back in the big ricebag we hung up the bedsheet to dry. The usual afternoon-thunderstorm made its first noises from far.
I looked at my tshirt that i was wearing. A mixture of red and blue had created a nice little mess. When i left the school i saw the teachers pointing at it, smiling. I smiled back and held up my thumb. Thats how it is supposed to be like!


Fifth week


photos on flickr:

Zu zweit jede Woche schon eine schwindelerrengd schnelle Fahrt, fliegt das Tuktuk mit nurn einem Gast geradzu über die “Straßen”. Der Versuch sich während der Fahrt noch einige Notizen zu machen scheitert kläglich an den hiesigen Straßenverhältnissen und Vins halsbrecherischem Fahrstil, so dass einem Angst und Bange wird, wenn sich eine neue Kurve anbahnt und man hofft auch diesmal nicht in hohem Bogen aus der offenen Kabine geschleudert zu werden oder gar umzukippen. Ca. 40 Minuten später erreichen wir dann endlich die Schule, wo strahlende Kinder mit Zahnbürsten bewaffnet einer anderen Voluntärin zur “Hygene-lesson” folgt. Die kleine Bambushütte in der nun nicht weniger als 90 Mobilés hängen und den Namen “Art Gallery” inzwischen redlich verdient wird heute seines Tisches beraubt und mit Plastikfolie ausgekleidet. Angemischte Farben, Wasser und Pinsel liegen bereit als die erste Klasse in bunte Regenmäntel gehüllt hineinstürmt. Bunte Bänder unterteilen die Wände der Hütte, die eher die Bezeichnung Zaun verdienen in 40 etwa gleichgroße Abschnitte auf denen sich heute jedes Kind mit Pinsel und Farbe austoben darf. Komplett frei ist die Aufgabe heute allerdings nicht gestellt, es soll eine Menschenkette einmal run um die Art Gallery entstehen aus Abbildern die die Kinder von sich selbst malen. Nach langen Erklärungen und stümperhaften Versuchen meinerseits das ganze als Zeichnung zu verbildlichen scheinen alle die Aufgabe verstanden zu haben und gehen ans Werk. Die Größe der zu malenden Figuren ist dann irgendwie doch noch nicht ganz klar, aber am Ende der ersten Stunde hat die Klasse in etwa die Hälfte der Wände mit Figuren geschmückt, die zwar eher selten als Abbilder ihrer Schöpfer zu erkennen sind, dafür aber umso farbenfroher sind und sich (meistens) sogar an den Händen halten.
Die zweite Gruppe legt noch ungestümer los und vielleicht ist es diesem Umstand zu verdanken, dass die Aufgabe nicht gänzlich verstanden und so neben Figuren auch ganze Abschnitte mit abstrakten Formen und Farben oder Blumenmustern bemalt wurden. Der Hitze wegen, die sich bei den ohnehin schon extremen Temperaturen unter den Regenmänteln staut gibt ein Teil der Klasse frühzeitig auf, jedoch nicht ohne eine bunte, wenn auch nicht immer als Menschenkette zu erkennende, Wandbemalung zu hinterlassen. Einige wenige begeisterte bleiben schlussendlich übrig und pinseln in akribischer Feinarbeit noch Hintergründe zwischen die Figuren.
Nach einem feuchtfröhlichen Pinselauswaschen und nachdem alle Materialen wieder verstaut sind gehts mit rasantem Tempo zurück über staubige Straßen.