Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Football and Freedom

We have officially entered the rain-season here in the valley where it relentlessly rains six-out-of-the-seven nights a week, giving us breezier nights of sleep where a blanket is actually necessary and fresh morning walks to school.  The banana trees, pineapple plants, vanilla vines, wild flowers, and our new organic compost outside of the volunteer house all benefit from the seasonal downpours.  Some days the roads are flooded and we have to march through the mud, and the grass on the football fields are growing so rapidly it won’t be long before it stands taller than some of the kindergartners.  It is incredible to witness the transformation as the rainwater makes apparent multiple constituents of the ecosystem I had never noticed in my first few months here.

The past couple weeks classes have been slowed down by a district and regional football tournament for the school children 13 and under.  The boys and girls at Caserio Nueva Mercedes participated and represented their home in these very exciting events, both placing second--each losing in a shoot-out--among four teams hosted by Constancia, a community a few kilometers away from Mercedes.  Early morning rendezvous in Mercedes were followed by pick-up-truck rides jam packed with almost 40 children (2 volunteers hanging off the back), introductions and interactions with children and teachers from Constancia, Los Recuerdos, and Miravalle, and nail-biting football matches.  Watching the kids play football on the school grounds daily with nothing on the line other than personal pride and glory, it was super fascinating to see all the individual energy synthesizing into one force with a common goal.  Like fingers folding into a fist, then and there appeared this solidarity that brought the kids to a different level I had yet to see, as they marched their way to championship games.  Although there were losses followed by hung-heads and tears, the children of Mercedes kept their composure maintaining their dignity.  This experience of seeing the children genuinely work as a team and battle for something is great motivation for me to pursue more “team-building” exercises.

The other day, director of LiChutam, Hannes Neimann, shared with me a very fascinating lecture presented by “TedTalk” which discussed how children are capable of teaching themselves,without adult supervision, about whatever subject given the opportunity and resources.  The example provided took place and continues to take place in India where the children are offered at no expense access to computers to browse the internet and play with the many applications the computers offer.  The concept of letting the child figure things out for his/herself is something I have been considering lately in respect to our computer class.  Seeing and hearing the lecturer’s presentation, combined with my experience of watching the boys and girls of Mercedes play soccer free-spiritedly but with a purpose, I cannot think contrary to fact that children need space to explore, move, and grow without adult-supplied-directions sometimes.  An important note-to-self as I hope to encourage the children to gain curiosity and understand the power a computer yields.

Today we began mid-term evaluations already marking the half-way point of the 2013 school year.  Having trouble believing that this means my time here is limited to only 5 more months, I couldn't
be more enthused about taking advantage of the time remaining.  Vamos!

Ted Talk Link:

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