Update from Stave House in the Sahara!
For the last two weeks in October, one of our partner organisations, Olive Branch Arts, are in the Camps to run their new photography and music training programme ‘Sand and Vision’. They are working in Smara and aim to build the storytelling and creative composition skills of young participants so they can tell their stories in new ways. You can find out more information about their work here. One of their team, Matt King Smith, is a musician and he is gathering the sounds, music and voices of Saharawis of all ages and musical abilities to create some tracks documenting the team's time in the Camps. We are lucky to have Matt working with both our Stave House in the Sahara groups on two different days of workshops.
This week, Matt led our young people through a series of rhythm and soundscape exercises and will return next week to record some of the sounds and music the young people can make with their voices and bodies and the instruments we have in our classroom. Take a look at the videos below to see what they got up to. Olive Branch Arts' Creative Director (Dramatherapy), Becky Finlay Hall, brought us some letters from children in a school in London and we will be writing some responses to them as soon as we can. The team also brought us some gifts of classroom resources so we are incredibly grateful to Olive Branch Arts for all their support and wish them loads of luck with their project - very much looking forward to seeing and hearing the results!
Meanwhile, Beccy Allen has continued to teach English to the children on a daily basis. Their activities this week involve learning through action and using circle time to ask each other questions and slowly build to be able to talk about themselves and other people in more and more detail. We hope you like watching a little of what we do in action.
Beccy Allen, Stave House in the Sahara's volunteer English teacher, shares with us some thoughts about her experience teaching young Saharawi children so far... (versión en español más abajo)
"So, after the first three weeks of English teaching as part of Stave House in the Sahara, I can safely say that I am excited about the children's learning. These young people have opened my eyes wider than ever to how hungry young minds can be for education and creativity. They love the games we play and are eager to answer and are getting better and better at listening to one another. They are making leaps in what they can remember and say and are becoming thoughtful in the way they support others who maybe struggle with something we working on at any given time.
Working with them on English every day is brilliant as you can see the progress made in a week. After the long summer break they were at first struggling to recall a lot of what they had learned last year. After three weeks of immersion for an hour at a time, working with a teacher who can only help them learn through the target language itself alongside gesture, we have developed our own ways of communicating and understanding one another and everything from last year is coming flooding back to them. They are becoming fearless in taking on board new vocabulary rather than looking to someone to translate the words for them.
Our classes switch between moments of calm and moments of playful energy. The children are inquisitive and bold and don't shy away from answering even when they are unsure. We focus on listening to my voice and all the strange and wonderful new sounds of the English words they are learning. They repeat over and over but also learn to question each other, learning to talk about themselves and others. We listen to English music and look at photos of England, many aspects of which are totally alien to them. We laugh at the way I pronounce their names but that helps them know that I am learning just as they are.
Bring on the next couple of months!"
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