It was the first week of the workshop that Brett, Lindsay, Shelby and I had invested our time and creativity into making and it was successfully accomplished! Everything was executed as we had planned, and if anything we had enough time to not only do what we had scheduled but more fun activities for bonding with the students. Looking back on all the planning that we had done, it was good that we had certain time frames to get an idea of how much time we would potentially need when actually doing the activities the day of.
On the first day, everybody just started to warm up to one another. It was not just us, the students from America, that did not know the tenth year students, but even the gap year students had never met them and the students were not all familiar with one another. The ice breakers were definitely essential in making these students more likely to open up and participate in class. For each activity that we had, we had different people leading them and I think this way of doing it was really effective. By having one leader per activity, the kids could sense the organization of the program that we had created and were more prone to listening to the person listening. The rest of us that were not leading the activity sat with the group of students and participated with them. I think this was very important in this program because it made us capable of connecting with the students. While it was important to have order in the classroom, the atmosphere was a lot more fun because we were not trying to be intimidating older figures but rather individuals that wanted to help them and give them some information about careers while having fun with them as well.
Yutong and Amanda joined us at Yabonga this week. Yutong came by on Wednesday and Amanda came by on Friday. I was really shocked, and pleasantly shocked at that, that these students were so happy to see new faces. They were extremely welcoming from the moment that these two stepped into the classroom. On Friday, when Yutong did not come out, some of the students that had been in class on Wednesday asked us, “Where is Yutong?” It was nice to see that these kids remembered her name and were missing her presence as well. On Friday, there was a comment that Amanda had made which really got my thinking. At the end of the day, Amanda and I were chatting and random things after the day had ended and we were waiting for the van. She asked me “Wait, Sierra, wasn’t that kid wearing the scarf that that kid is wearing now? And that kid was wearing the hat that that kid is wearing now?” Glancing in the direction of the people that she was speaking of, I nodded my head. She then went on to ask if these kids had known each other before, to which I replied no. What came as a surprise to her, made me realize this reality as well – this was that these kids are so open and sharing with so many different aspects of themselves and their culture that even if they had only known one another for a week, they seemed as though they had known each other for years. If somebody were to walk into that classroom at the moment these kids were jumping around and smiling and laughing together, they would think that these students had grown up around each other for a very long period of time. In the states, there is this sense of ownership that us as Americans have. We achieved this or we achieved that. This is mine or that is hers or his. While there is nothing wrong with this, because yes, if something does belong to you and you earned it, you have every right to say that it is yours, it was just an interesting experience seeing kids share all of the things that they had with one another after knowing each other for a week or less.