After several weeks of planning and preparation, I was able to bring art to Thilogne this week.  Using the art supplies donated by teachers from White Oaks Elementary School in Virginia, I taught a total of 150 7th grade students the very basics of color and line.  More importantly, the class gave them a chance to experiment with crayons and markers - a chance they’ve never had before and most likely will not have again.  Here in Thilogne, students are sometimes taught art theory, but it does not go farther than that.


The first class was two hours long and after the first hour the kids would not stay in their seats and would not stop talking.  For positive reinforcement, I had been putting some good drawings up on the wall.  However, these students are not used to positive reinforcement, they are only used to getting beat if they do something wrong.  So after I had put a few drawings on the wall, kids starting shouting at me to put theirs up as well, and before long kids were putting their own drawings on the wall themselves .  On top of that, the kids had no idea what to do when I said “be creative and use your imagination” because they have never been told to do that before.  What happened, was everyone ended up just copying the example I did on the board.  It was basically out of control, and when I got home I was so traumatized all I could do was stare at the wall for a half hour.

Thanks to the advice of my music-teacher mom, I shortened the following classes to one hour, simplified everything, and took out the things that didn’t work, and they went much more smoothly.  Since each student who participated received a small bag of new crayons, I now have every kid and her mother asking me for crayons.  Crayons are non-existent here so I can see their appeal, but I really didn’t like how the majority of students did not say thank you and instead asked for more crayons or complained that they didn’t get markers as well.  The problem is that people here have learned to expect things from outsiders because they have been given things by development workers their entire lives.  Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of people not being grateful for things, since they think they are entitled to it.  In any case, the kids seemed to enjoy the art classes.


All the left-over supplies (and there were tons), I donated to the pre-school, which has almost no supplies to work with, and I imagine the kids do not do very much the four hours they are there.  This week, I also started teaching an HIV/AIDS Prevention and Gender Development class to a small group of girls ages 14 and 15.  I’m looking forward to working with these girls, as they seem eager to learn about the subject.  Thank you to everyone who helped make the art camp possible!