About Me

My photo
This is my blog AND my website now. Click on the " my paintings" tab to view my paintings. Scroll down to read my blog.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crafts in the Czech

In this blog I will highlight a few of the crafts done by campers in the Czech. Basically, it is a follow up to this post (which talks about all the plans I had).

1. Necklaces:

I helped coteach the "level 5" English group, which would be the most mid-level English speakers. I used the necklace craft during the "fashion" lesson (because necklaces have to do with fashion, right?). The students were supposed to cut words out of magazines that describe themselves. I thought this girls choice of words were funny since she was one of our quietest students. But her necklaces didn't make me laugh as much as some of them did (although I didn't get pictures of them all). Some of them had some really random words on them like "monkey", "keyboard", "brain" and "back"- a reminder that they don't speak English fluently yet.

I have to say this boy was my favorite student of all. He began by being placed in level 2, but after realizing that he was beyond level 2, he got moved up into my class (lucky for me). The first few days he was extremely hesitant to speak, but by the last two days, when our level's translator got sick and couldn't make it, he was doing the majority of the translating for us. Also, by the end, we could sit together at lunch and have a decently understandable conversation... well, atleast understandable enough to realize that he was a super high quality boy that I would have liked to adopt as my own son, but since that's not possible, I hope my own kids end up this awesome. I wish that I could have taken this necklace home with me, because I thought it was so awesome. This girl wasn't in my class though.

2. Playdough

If there is one thing I learned about Czech people, it is that they really like play dough. I didn't realize that play dough would be such a hit or I would have planned it into more lessons. Apparently, you can't get play dough in the Czech.

This is the "supermodel" we created before beginning our "fashion" lesson- complete with whitey tighteys, rollerblades, and a bottle of beer.
At the end of our "space and technology" lesson we had some extra time and I asked the kids what they wanted to do, and they unanimously voted for playdough. So we created this space scene. I thought it was pretty impressive. Again, with the whitey tighteys. This is my entire class with our space scene. Sean, who is sitting in the back in the window sill was my teaching partner.

These are some aliens that Brandi's class created. I didn't get to get around to all the classes, but I hear that there were many more awesome playdough sculptures.

3. Tie Dye Bags

I have to say that I have never seen tiedye come out as brilliant as these bags did. Even when I put my sample bag next to these, it looked dull and pastel. I don't know why these turned out so well, but I hope I can do whatever it was again.

We tied and dyed the bags on Tuesday. That night, Brandi and Kim stayed up late helping me untie them and rinse them out (while not separating the name of the artist from the bag- a challenge). I was so excited that night about all the beautiful deep tones that didn't rinse out, like they normally do for me. On Wednesday, the craft session was cancelled and all the campers went on a 4 hour hike. I took that opportunity to stay back and catch up on sleep (which I was deeply deprived of the entire time). When I woke up, I ironed all of the bags and then laid them out on the green sloped lawn. As the campers arrived back from their hike, they could see their beautiful bags from a distance and they looked like a brilliant psychedelic quilt all together. Here I am laying with the bags, which I am very proud of, even though I didn't even make them. Three of the Czech girls model their bags.

4. Decoupage Frames

I think this was the Czech's favorite craft. That made me feel good, because it made my months and months of OCD magazine cutting seem totally worth it.

5. Hats

The hat painting wasn't my idea. My team members, who had been to the Czech last year said that the campers really loved painting hats, so we should do it again. When I made the sample hat (which, by the way, I am really glad I made samples, because otherwise I would have had virtually no way of communicating to them what we were doing, since there was sometimes no translator around for craft time), but as I was saying, when I made my sample hat, I used my nice acrylic paint here at home, which was sortof cruel because all we could afford to buy for them was cheap puffy paint. I was seriously impressed with how well the campers were able to actually make decent looking hats with really crappy paint that I wouldn't dare touch.

This is Romi and she attended every single one of my craft sessions. We also had a large ziplock bag of really cheap kids tempera paint that I kept in the craft bag. Any time she had any free time, she would get out the tempera paint and begin to paint something on whatever scrap paper was around. By the looks of it, she was really a talented artist. At the end of the week, we were dispersing our leftover supplies to all the campers so we wouldnt have to haul them home. I made sure to get the bag of tempera paint to her, and when I gave it to her, she started crying because she was so happy to be able to keep the paint. Like I said, art supplies are hard to come by in the Czech and if an artist is grateful for kids tempera paint, then I would think the Czech is not a great place to be born if you're an artist! Last week I picked up a nice set of acrylic paints at Hobby Lobby, and I will mail them to her next week. If she's never used nice paints before, she's going to discover that she's a much better artist than she ever even knew!
So that's it! The crafts that I didn't mention anything about either didn't go as well as I planned (like the nature prints) or I didn't have my camera around to take pictures of them (like the clothing collages).

English Camp in the Czech

I tend to leave the most important/defining events of my life out of my blog, because I just get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. And such is the case right now. Upon returning from the Czech, there have been so many different thoughts, memories, and aspects of the trip swirling around in my head that I feel as if I wouldn’t be able to collate or organize them into bloggable material. But, alas, I feel compelled to at least try.

The first 5-6 days of the trip brought me much anxiety because the entire country of the Czech was without internet, and I was unable to contact my family, which (in my mind at the time) confirmed my worst fear, which was that I was completely abandoning my family and children, leaving them helpless with no way to communicate with me even if they desperately needed to. After that, however, internet was restored, and the subsequent weeks brought brighter days.

Except for the last leg of the journey (which included a11/2 day stay in Prague) our team was isolated to a hotel in the mountains, far from any nearby city. This is where the English camp was held, and where I became acquainted with the country through its young people. I discovered how they interacted, how they reasoned, how they expressed friendship and love, and how they viewed themselves and God (all of which being starkly different than Americans). I think I learned more about the country than any tourist could have by site seeing, museum touring, or road tripping. Through the older Czech people, I was able to have an inside view on how communism, and the current lack thereof, has shaped them uniquely as a person into who they are today, and how it continues to evolve each and every individual in the country. Our later stay in Prague, presented the opportunity to visit a communism museum- but I don’t think even that could have educated me about communism in the way that real people could.

The most refreshing aspect of their culture for me, was being able to witness the Czech campers being exposed to God, spirituality and Christianity apart from the mucky lens of American Christian culture. It seemed almost so ideal that it was surreal to be able to see someone understand the gospel without the influence of a chip on their shoulder that I have always previously encountered. It was encouraging, to say the least… it’s an understatement, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

I personally invested many hours into preparing curriculum and activities for the English lessons as well as crafts to do later in the day after all the lessons were done. This was, by far, the most fulfilling part of the trip for me, because I feel like my effort was very successful. I was amazed at how wholeheartedly each student jumped into the process of each craft. Everyone participated immediately, no coercion required, like I had been anticipating. I learned that art and craft supplies are hard to come by in the Czech, thus their enthusiasm when provided with them. I will blog further about specific crafts and add pictures!

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I connected with the American teenagers who were on my team the way I had envisioned. I don’t know if it was due to unrealistic expectations on my part, or on their part, or if it just wasn’t meant to be. If the later is the case, that is perfectly fine, just as long as I didn’t make a negative impact, as opposed to a neutral one. And hopefully, it was one of those cases where God was really in control, and the impact was positive, despite not being apparent to me in the moment. That being said, one highlight of my trip was on the very last day, in Prague, when I traveled the city with the three soon-to-be high school seniors from our team. We spent the day taking senior pictures of them in front of notable architecture and attractions in the city. I feel like the pictures turned out awesome and I hope that, if nothing else, that was one positive interaction I had with the team. Hopefully during the next year they will be proud to have super unique senior portraits (and thankfully, they all go to three different schools!) I will include a blog with these pictures later as well.

I’m not sure that these few paragraphs summed up what I got out of the trip or not, but it’s a start. I was hoping that once I blogged it out, I would have an easier time writing my thank you notes to those who supported me, but I think it might have just made it seem even more complicated that I thought. Furthermore, I have been putting off posting anything else on my blog until I have made myself say SOMETHING about the Czech, as well as keeping myself from reading anybody elses blogs (as motivation), so at this point I am feeling incredibly backed up. Anyhow, it’s a relief to have gotten it over with!