So here's an update on what I've been up to:
My pilot group of basic computer class students (4 adults) finished, sadly only with a 50% pass rate on their exam although I can explain the ones that didn't. Since then, I've started another group of 4 adults and a before school group of 4 primary school students, both on the basic course. They all seem to be chugging along nicely. I detest early morning stuff, but the 730-830, 2 days a week seem to work nicely for the primary school students. I find it humorous the younger students complain about all the material I have them learn, whereas the adults (most have never touched a computer) don't make any comments about the amount of material.
The village council I've been coaching is like a slow sluggish engine in winter. Sometimes is wobbles a bit and chokes, but its' warming up and will soon be running smoothly. The executive group is motivated and has a great core to lead. I'm proud of the people in place and am confident that I'll be able to step back and let them stand on their own. If I'm able to do so this early in my service, I believe that it will certainly have enough time to prove sustainable by the time I leave (score 1 point for me. ^_^)
The sub-committees, which handle the various aspects of our village however still need a bit of fire under the pants. But hey, it's a new group and concept for them, so we'll need a couple months to really build the organization dynamics. With the stronger core at the lead--I'm confident they can guide the sub-committees into action. Time will tell.
We have 4 sub-committees, with at least 3 people in each.
- Education & Culture
- Agriculture, Environment, Health, & Infrastructure
- Community Mobilization
I'll be meeting with our exec group tomorrow to draft our council constitution and draft the new management plan for our community center.
Some of the activities in the works for our sub-committees include: a community cricket game day, writing a grant proposal to get funds to build a community bulletin board, launching a reading festival event, and starting an youth executive program. The last part finds adolescent youth in the community to become Assistant _____ position to match an executive on the council. The goal will be to help prepare and empower that youth to perform the duties of the executive role and gain valuable experience.
Drumming is coming along nicely. I can already identify which kids are now regulars and perhaps get some sort of program in place. I've had to put an age minimum of 10 in place to help reduce the chaos of kids that come during practice. Ok so the younger ones still come, but at least I can tell the youngsters upfront they won't be playing that day. I'm still having a hard time getting some of the older kids and adults out. Hopefully our new direction will seek to bring them in. I need to find an adult community partner on this if I am to implement the larger plan...
The larger plan is to build a youth-driven and adult-coached club, much like a Boy Scout troop, that focuses on volunteer roles and uses sound and motion as tools for education and recreation. I've been asking around--poking a few names out and ECHO seems to have a nice 'ring' to it. I'm sure it might be better to have an group come together to give it a name and the usual start-up papers in order to help develop a sense of ownership to the group. However, it is hard enough to get anyone outside of primary school to show interest in many things--especially if they are not getting any sort of remission. Having a name and draft papers already in place will probably make things a bit easier to get a start-up group together. So I am building the name and papers after bouncing ideas of individuals on the street and offices.
People here tend to enjoy acronyms and given the nature of the group, I thought ECHO be good for Every Choice Helps Others. What you think? We are targeting to be a group that focuses initially on music (drums and percussion) and dance (African, Afro-Carib, and Freestyle most likely) to help spread educational messages. When we're not performing or practicing--we would hope to take messages to the streets and not only learn about the issues, but learn how to talk about them intelligently (public debate?). Part of seeking out issues will also be trying to help find and implement positive solutions to overcome local issues. This will foster service learning activities and events--anything from helping repair homes to food drives. I'd like to see an environmental twist in there as well, but if I can get a group volunteering on any issue regularly--I'll take that just the same.
So if you know anyone that is looking for a bit of philanthropy, we could use some help with instruments. lol. Actually, bless the internet--I hope to learn to build a bamboo flute, shak, and other local instruments. I am searching for people here that could teach such things, but either they want too much $ to show others how to craft such things or in most areas the cultural knowledge has become forgotten already.
Saturday, Kay (one of the kid's mom and one of few community activists) and I took a group of kids up to the village of Rose Hall. The Rose Hall Cultural and Development Organization was putting on a Heritage and Culture Festival as part of the larger Vincy Homecoming/30 yrs independence nationwide series of activities. The organization's VP is the one who has been mentoring our young drummers and asked if we would be willing to perform at the festival. So with about 1 month of drumming and 1 week to practice a folk song he gave us--we went to find adventure.
Of course, West Indies time kicked in....the van to pick us up did so about 1hr 45 min after we were asked to be ready to go. Good thing we had the drums to keep the kids occupied. The event started an 1-1.5 hours late too.
The kids had fun--running amok watching the different groups perform. There was a donkey race, poetry, hand drumming, boom (stick) drumming, steel pan drumming, various types of dances, and a couple live band shows. There was a large party, called a 'blacko' afterwards--but we didn't stay for that and got the kids home. It was fun trying to find our missing van driver also--got back over an hour after the permission slips said we would be back. Fortunately, I haven't been reamed by any parents yet.
Of course, I would have taken lots of pictures, but I'm having issues with my camera battery still. mur. I did see someone I know taking many shots and he said I could get a set copy--now I just have to track that guy down again and get them...
I should mention that next time, I don't think we'll be doing a song. I kept telling the kids to slow down the speed of their singing. Of course on stage the flew through it super fast. Let's just say the song should go 5 mph, in practice they when 10-15mph and on stage they went 40 mph. It was over in a matter of seconds. Of course it might have been a saving grace that a drunken Rasta managed to get up on the stage and dance to the kids singing. This led to not only the crowds laughter, but the kids were laughing too. One of them nearly fell over laughing and was unable to recover himself--just kept laughing. Those that could stop were not able to get back into sync with each other. Yet I think it was a good thing--the kids performance might not be remembered for going super fast, but being interrupted by a drunk. I don't mind the kids had such an experience. I'm sure for most of them it was their first time on stage and there was lots of people (a few hundred at least). That coupled with only a week to practice the song we received when we've only been practicing drumming skills...yeah... It was a learning experience.
Isn't this hat ridiculous? lol...thanks Dave. I'm wearing it regularly now and it is nice to keep the sun off my pasty melon head--but a few of the locals are calling me cowboy. Interesting....
I learned something new the other day about fishing here. They have a decent sized fish (no clue how big really, but at least the length of my arm and good girth) that they call a dolphin. Yes, it is a fish. The animal we call dolphin back home--they call a porpoise. To them there is no difference, not that it makes a big deal here in the day to day. If you didn't know the difference, read this. However, there are still people here who do not acknowledge the local food known as Black fish as actually being Pilot Whale and not a fish. (That part I've known for awhile.)
Stay happy and well
~your local wannabe jedi