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Krystle's report of reading camps
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Krystle's report of reading camps

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  • 1. During the month of August, I participated in reading camps at the village libraries of Sara,Karaba, Koumbia and Boni. At each camp, the sessions were facilitated by an animator, a primaryschool teacher, the librarian, one or two assistants and two (sometimes three) Peace Corpsvolunteers. FAVL provided a schedule for the camp which, with some variation depending on theanimator and time constraints, was followed in each village. Since the emphasis of the week wasimproving the reading levels of the kids, each day included guided reading, free reading and tutoringsessions. Each afternoon, the primary school teacher gave a lesson, usually about syllabification.Other sessions in the day included health lessons on topics such as malaria, HIV/AIDS andmaternal/infantile health and tutorials about gender and success in school. For the HIV/AIDS andmaternal/infantile health sessions, FAVL was able to use a grant to purchase 50 books. The bookswere beautiful, but the level of French was very difficult for the kids (even those who did read well)to understand without discussion after each page. There were also creative sessions built into theschedule – the kids made necklaces, masks and flowers; they drew pictures of animals, houses andpeople; as a class, at each camp, they put together a comic strip about the importance of coming tothe library. At each camp, the animators and the primary schools were fantastic! They had a great rapportwith the kids and were not afraid to be silly, by singing, dancing and participating in the art projects.The volunteers with whom I worked enjoyed their experiences working with the facilitators and thekids. We were glad to help out at the camps, but were happy to see the Burkinabè leading themajority of the sessions. They were able to give relevant examples and cultural references to makedifficult topics, like HIV/AIDS more accessible to the kids. Sessions that were also very effective wereled by the librarians themselves. For the 2011 reading camps, the participants were either chosen randomly or were the last 25 inthe class. So there was a lot of emphasis on the basics of reading, which was incredibly helpful to thekids. For the lowest level kids, work focused on simply reciting the alphabet and putting letterstogether to make syllables. Even for the more advanced readers, the teachers concentrated lessonson syllabification. The return to basics was an important revision for all the students, even those whoalready knew how to read. Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the camps and libraries in the southwest. I am really glad Ihad this opportunity because it helped showed me the impact that FAVL is having through thelibraries. It also helped me better understand the work that FAVL is actually doing in Burkina Faso.The experience will definitely help me better perform my tasks as a third year volunteer with FAVL. My suggestions for future camps are (1) we emphasize the support role of the Peace Corpsvolunteers, so that the majority of the sessions are led by Burkinabè and the PCVs are there to lend ahelping hand; (2) we choose a theme for the week, instead of jam-packing the week with discussionsessions. Perhaps we can focus on hygiene or malaria – something very relevant to the lives of thekids; (3) One of the things we did at the camp at Boni, which I really liked, was PCVs demonstratedhow to make a cream out of local materials to chase away mosquitoes. The kids watched how it wasdone and copied down the instructions for how to make it. Then, each kid and facilitator got to take asample of the cream home with them to use and to show to their families. Not only was it a hands-onactivity for the kids, it was very relevant to their lives and demonstrated another use for reading. Krystle

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