I realized that even though I've been blogging a lot, it has been a while since I've written about the PACT clubs that I work with, and people from home have been asking me what is happening with them. Both of the PACT clubs that I work with, one at the JSS and one at one of the primary schools, are doing very well. The JSS PACT students now consistently present every Tuesday to a total of 15 classrooms during a free period time during which the students would otherwise just be sitting in classrooms on their own doing nothing. I go for support, but they are presenting the information and each week I see their confidence and presentation skills improving. Every Wednesday and sometimes on Mondays if they need some extra support I meet with them right after school. At these weekly meetings we talk about different issues that impact youth here. Initially, I came up with the topic each week because they were so shy that they would just sit there and stare at me if I didn't have something planned. Now they suggest a topic each week, I bring team builder activities and activities that help them to have open discussions and debate the topics, and they talk very openly. Then they take that topic and present the information to the classrooms the following Tuesday during the presentation times. I'm SO proud of them and how far they have come. This week the topic we discussed at their Wednesday meeting was love and dating relationships. They talked about what they thought about love, dating, sex, and the issues that come up in relationships very openly with each other and with me. Then I asked them to play a game where if they agreed with the statement they went to one side of the room and if they disagreed they went to the other. The statements were all about dating relationships. A few months ago, if I had played that game with them they would have just followed each other and wouldn't have stated their opinions. I was so impressed with how they chose for themselves and were able to argue their own points if they disagreed with each other. I literally was teary eyed after the meeting. The younger, primary PACT students are doing well too. They started out even shyer than the JSS students, and it has taken a very long time to draw them out of their shells, but I'm really seeing them start to open up more, trust me, ask more questions that they would have been embarrassed to ask a while ago, and come together as a team. Two of the primary PACT students recently presented at an assembly for the very first time! I was so proud of them. They were two of the more outspoken students, but I'm hoping they will help to motivate the shyer ones to start to speak up more too. Today I introduced the conversation of dating and love to the primary PACT students as well, but I geared it more toward younger students. I was surprised by some of the comments made and questions asked though, and I will be presenting to them about puberty next week because many of the questions were related to that. They have been so shy that I'm actually really glad that they are asking those questions and feel comfortable enough with each other and with me to talk. The primary PACT students also finally figured out one of the solutions to a team builder called "Flip It" today. Everyone starts out holding hands facing inside of a circle and has to flip around so that they are all still holding hands but facing the outside of a circle. It took them two PACT meetings to find this solution, and they were beginning to get frustrated, but their tenacity is impressive. A few of them begged me to just tell them the answer a few times, but I told them that they would feel so much better if they figured it out on their own. When they did they jumped up and down and cheered and told me I was right and that they felt better solving it on their own. They want to work on the second solution next week.
I have some other projects going on at the schools as well. I'm working on a workshop for the primary PACT club that I've been working with and to help kick-off a PACT club at the other primary school in my village. Other PCVs and guidance teachers will be helping me with this. I'm also going to be doing some more STEPS film presentations at the schools, and I"m starting back up Life Skill Talks and Soccer for the primary school students now that it isn't 110 degrees out anymore. The other day I met the new JSS art teacher who also is connected with the guidance and counseling department, and he invited me to come to art club meetings and to help motivate some more students to get involved so I'll be starting that next week. I'm excited about that because even though it has been a very long time since I've taken any art classes, art is something that I enjoy. It'll also give me the chance to interact more with some of the JSS students who aren't' in PACT, and maybe I'll be able to recruit some more PACT students.
Werda students will also be participating in two more GLOW camps! One of them will be in Moshupa, and one will be in this district again. More on those at a later date!
Peace out for now!