It’s been a pretty hectic time since our education last week. The stream of students coming to the center has gradually increased, and we now have a core group of around 10 students that have been regularly attending the Fellows’ various programs—including a group of students from a vocational school that come almost every day.
Having the students at the Education Center has been a really exciting experience. So far, the students have shown genuine enthusiasm for basically everything we have at the center: Gina’s developing garden, BJ’s singing exercises, the fish pond, Austin’s phys ed lessons, and the different writing projects. I can’t think of anything that’s made me appreciate our work here more than the looks on the kids’ faces when they see something they find especially interesting—so far Lexy’s science demonstrations seem to have been perhaps the biggest hit as the students we’ve worked with have little exposure to science classes in school.
My poetry project has also been progressing well. I’ve found that most of the students I’ve worked with have had very little experience dealing with poetry before, with only a handful of them having even read poetry before and even less having written a poem of their own. As a result, my efforts this past week have focused on introducing students to the basics of poetry (format, structure, how it differs from traditional writing, etc.) before encouraging the students to write on their own.
We’ve also spent the past week traveling around to different schools in the area to promote the education center among local students. So far, I think these trips have been really fun and interesting. Today, for example, Austin, Grace, Lexy and I met with the principal of a local high school to ask for his support in promoting ELI Africa and its vision amongst the school’s students. Not only did our meeting last over an hour, but the principal also gave us a full tour of the school afterwards, where we witnessed student auditions for music and dance competition the school will be hosting tomorrow—a really cool experience.
At the same time, however, I’m feeling a little frustrated that our efforts in schools aren’t showing more immediate results. Especially considering the overwhelmingly positive reaction we’ve gotten from students and faculty alike while visiting schools, I had hoped that the center would begin seeing a major influx in attendance over the course of the past week—which hasn’t really happened. Perhaps it was unrealistic to envision students instantly coming in droves to the center after we made our visits—particularly considering the other commitments they have during the center’s hours—but I’m definitely hoping that the center will soon reap the fruits of our labor.
For now, we’ll continue to visit schools, arrange for meetings with principals and government ministers to promote for our center, and generally just keep working to promote the work we’re doing at the education center.