In the beginning of a new project, people step into an unfamiliar environment. Introducing rounds are very popular at that time of a program, but sometimes feel quite artificial. It is not easy to lay oneself open immediately. With the frame the students get the opportunity to present themselves when they feel ready for it, stepping inside and outside the frame and using different hats. They can go stand behind the frame and say: “Look this is a portrait of me, I’m …” and so on. They can also use one of the hats to describe themselves. Some give a lot of information, other choose to stay on the background. Everyone is appreciated for his own input. People can easily choose the amount of information they want to give and feel comfortable. You can use the creative means to tell more about yourself or to hide yourself. This unconstrained start creates an open, warm atmosphere.
“ In one way you put yourself in the picture, through the frame, but in another way you can hide behind a character by choosing a hat. To some of us the threshold is high, to some it was a careful step in the right direction and to others it was a piece of a cake. Important was the fact that people could be themselves.”
“ Because that is the beginning of everything: do you feel welcome or not? An open environment is very important. The secret is in the creation of this environment.”
This activity is based on the book ‘de mondenboom’, which can be used in drama-classes with children. It gives the students a taste of working in an artistic way on diversity. Imagination and dialogue are important elements in this activity. Each student chooses a partner and an activity card from the book. In a playful, creative way the students can talk to each other and get to know each other better. Every picture, every situation can be interpreted in another way and this opens the road to the exchange of points of view. Nevertheless, there are no right or wrong answers, there is just the story you build up together.
A window Choose a window from the house in the book. Make up a scene which can take place behind the window which you have chosen. Look around at the place where you are right now. Choose three objects which you can use as decor for the scene. Make sure that your decor is set before the scene starts, so the spectators are getting curious. Start your scene without saying a word. The spectators are getting super curious right now. Only when there is no other possibility you can talk. Know your character Choose two attributes in the frames on the wall. Try to imagine to who these attributes would belong. Now, you have a character. What do you like to eat? Who are your best friends? What are your favourite clothes? What are you good in? What makes you really happy? When were you very afraid for the last time? Come up with some more questions by which you can reveal how someone thinks and feels. Answer these questions like your character would do .
Kamishibai is a traditional Japanese story format. ‘Kami’ means paper and ‘shibai’ drama (paper drama so to speak). Big colourful drawing fit in a tiny theatre which can be assembled on a bicycle. Each drawing shows a scene from the story. While he tells the story, the storyteller moves the drawings, as if they were slow motion cartoons. In Japan, this (cycling) narrative theatre was a huge success from '20 to '50. With the arrival of television, kamishibai got kind of obscure. But recently, there is a true revival of this poetic storytelling format.
As an introduction, two lecturers tell a part of the story* to the group in English. Each country receives the cards with the scenes. They can organise the cards themselves and tell their own story in their own language in front of a multilingual group. The value of the creative language comes to the front, using drawings, gestures, intonation … The lingual differences can be overcome by sharing a story and using creative means. This activity can be really beneficial for the group, giving everyone the opportunity to talk in their own language and recognizing the importance of this. Each group can make up their own story, is encouraged to bring something of their own. Storytelling is a simple activity, but it is something everybody knows and by which everyone feels home. * A man lives in a white, grey house. A bird is passing by, carrying a can of paint. At a moment, the bird looses some paint and it falls on the house of the man. In the beginning he is angry, but in a way he likes it. He continues by painting the whole of his house, he plants palm trees in the garden,… The other houses in the street aren’t that beautiful. The neighbours see the beautiful house of the man and start copying it. They also want their houses to be that colourful.
“ When you find a mutual language, the communication can start.” “ For the students it gave a good feeling to talk in their own language.”
In the international program, students visit a family with a group of children. There are several reasons for this involvement of the families. First of all, it ‘s a way of working on a positive relationship between the school and the parents. Second, parents are being recognized as real partners, who also have important things to give to the children. This is also something which children are very sensitive about: if their home and parents are recognized as being valuable, they will feel more welcome at school. Last but not least, we want to stress the outreaching element of this visit. Diversity is in the school, but also in the neighbourhood and the families. It is wonderful if a school opens her doors, leaves the safe school ground to see what is out there. The choice of a creative project was also obvious. Differences are approached with our brain too much. It’s time we also use our body and heart. Just working together, experiencing things together, makes that we can get closer to each other. It is out of these experiences that we can reflect on what we have done, how we feel about the diversity in the class and how we can cope with it.
The school and the families choose together between several creative activities. All the activities are based on making your home your own. How do you want your door to look like? How do you want the mailbox to look like? How do you want the name tag to look like? The outer layer can tell us something about the inside. It also can deceive us, so we always need to communicate to get to know the other. Knowing that we are visiting a family, they are the starting point. Just like you adapt yourself to the rules and values in the family, the group listens to the wishes of the family and tries to work together to create something that carries a bit of everyone and meanwhile fits the family. All groups have chosen to work on a door. A door is our passage to the world, to the other. It symbolises the connection between our private and safe environment and the outer world. We can show something about ourselves, we can open it, to let the other into our world. We can also open it to meet the other in his or her world, but we always can go back to our own safe home environment. The door is our connection, we can move anywhere we want to and need to.
“’ Do you know if …?’ She cannot find the right words. ‘Wait’, she says ‘I will draw’. At that moment you can only think: mission accomplished! The girl was looking for other means to get the message through, in this case it was through expressive means.” “ I was surprised about the hospitality of the families. They were very friendly even though we were strangers.” “ The family which I was visiting has been very friendly with all the kids and I saw them smiling around the painted door. I think that with these kind of activities they can learn that everyone has something to give, even better if it is something different from us.” “ If you still put a wall around you, than put a door in it!”
The family project is ended with a reflection on it in the classroom. The children get the opportunity to look back on their experiences. This activity reaches further than an evaluation of the different activities and focuses on what they have learned about each other and diversity in general. The students make use of pictures taken at the activities to keep the conversation concrete. It has no point to talk about diversity far away, when it’s right under our nose. It’s in the class group that the children, each with his own backpack, have to get along. This means the children do not need general information, but can learn from the experiences in their daily life. They talk about similarities and differences. Off course there were differences, they could be small or big, but there were also ways to cope with them. In front, the teacher students select a number of pictures from the different activities. All the pictures tell us something about diversity: working together, using creative means to communicate, listening to each other … The children use the pictures to tell about their experiences. They are also asked to make a wall (or a pyramid) of the different pictures: which event meant much to you, which was maybe less important to you? When this is discussed in the group, you can see that the children differ in opinion. This is an ideal starting point for a conversation about differences in the class group.
“ Talking about diversity is not easy, it takes a lot of time (…) Make it a theme for your life.”
Intercultural education is about dialogue, taking time to get to know each other. A group needs its time to get close. Through evening cooking and animation this can happen in a pleasant and relaxed way. All countries are asked to cook dinner for their fellow participants. This is a nice translation of ‘bringing your country in a suitcase’: sharing food, clothes, habits, decoration, songs, dances … They share a bit of their life at home with their colleagues. Appreciation, pride, understanding and enjoying time together … are prominent. The group, composed out of about 30 persons, learns to appreciate each other just by spending time together.
“ We have shared rooms, showers, kitchen, toilets. We have washed dishes, played, studied, talked, discussed, laughed, presented, thought, reflected. We have understood and we have learned. We have grown a bit more.” “ Not everything was that tasty, but you noticed the appreciation when you showed you liked the food, or when you did the best you could to taste everything.”
Thanks to <ul><li>Rosa Rodrigues </li></ul><ul><li>Maria Teresa Santos </li></ul><ul><li>Loes Bastiaansen-Lazeroms </li></ul><ul><li>Antonio Bertacca </li></ul><ul><li>Geert Van Buynder </li></ul><ul><li>Marianne Ivens </li></ul><ul><li>Sander Van Acker </li></ul><ul><li>Katrien De Westelinck </li></ul><ul><li>Rasa Jautakyte </li></ul><ul><li>Anke De Reuse </li></ul><ul><li>Patricia Leonor Sabbatella </li></ul><ul><li>Feryacul Cubuk </li></ul><ul><li>Gertjan Desmet </li></ul><ul><li>Ruth Van Uytvanck </li></ul><ul><li>Sabrina Soer </li></ul><ul><li>Lotte Ernst </li></ul><ul><li>Christa Nijhoff </li></ul><ul><li>Melanie ten Hoeve </li></ul><ul><li>Olivija Spokauskiene </li></ul><ul><li>Rimante Bagdonaite </li></ul><ul><li>Ana Rita Guerreiro Tomás </li></ul><ul><li>Télia da Graça Guerreiro Rodrigues </li></ul><ul><li>Sandra Marisa Cruz da Silveira Roque </li></ul><ul><li>Lígia Guerreiro Loução de Oliveira </li></ul><ul><li>Eva Mª Pérez Sánchez </li></ul><ul><li>Jacqueline Rodriguez Marquez </li></ul><ul><li>Jose Ignacio Cantos Redondo </li></ul><ul><li>Özlem Pişkin </li></ul><ul><li>Harun Özhan Can </li></ul><ul><li>Tuncay Cura </li></ul><ul><li>Youri De Grim </li></ul><ul><li>Steven Scheers </li></ul><ul><li>Karen Relaes </li></ul><ul><li>Niki Schippers </li></ul><ul><li>Michiel Declercq </li></ul><ul><li>Anne Straetmans </li></ul><ul><li>Jurate Venskute </li></ul><ul><li>Paola Valentini </li></ul><ul><li>Kinzica Sorrenti </li></ul><ul><li>Giorgio Mennella </li></ul>And of course the schools, teachers and childrenfor their enthusiastic, dynamic cooperation and so much more … Sint-Carolus, Driegaaien, SintCamillus, Berkenboom Mozaïek Thank you!
Sources Frame: http://www.wijngaardsteenvoorde.nl/2index.html?agenda Mondenboom: Oostvogels, T. & De Weerdt, H. (2005), “De mondenboom. Ideeën om toneel te spelen”, Afijn, Canon. Kamishibai: http://www.matsudafilm.com/matsuda/b_pages/b_ge.html Explanation kamishibai: http://www.abcweb.be/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=32&Itemid=117 Doors: http://www.utip.info/cheesetoastie/artists.html, werk van Hundertwasser Photwall: http://picasaweb.google.com/mzylicz/Margot/photo#5135580368377000626 Photo family: http://www.callenbach-e%20vries%20callenbach.jpg