Day 2 AM: At the school

Today the participants and school students worked on a quick sketch model of the school grounds and buildings to provide a basis for an ideas exercise with the girls.  Groups of 2 or 3 participants worked with the students doing drawings and making models to show how they think their school could be improved.

Amongst the highlights were some beautiful models of the existing buildings which the girls made from memory extremely accurately, a new model classroom and a model of an improved sports area the complete with trees to provide more shade made from leaves of plants found on site.

The key themes that emerged from the exercise were the desire for more shaded seating around the sports areas, improved sports pitches (to allow a greater variety of sports to be played) and modifications to classrooms ranging from introducing more colour, making larger windows on the east side (to make the rooms lighter but also warmer in the winter) and changing the furniture so the children could sit on the floor in a more informal arrangement.

The time with the students working in an informal manner was effective in encouraging the girls to talk openly about how they use the schools and what they would like to see changed.

“Working with the girls was all about creating a comfortable atmosphere where they would feel free to communicate, a space where the trust created would encourage deep answers… a look, a smile in response to our first tentative questions, then at some point the questions become more direct and more personal.  We also talk a bit about ourselves to show that we are not that different.   Age, language, origin; the barriers collapse and the exchange can really start.” – Joanne Massoubre

“For the two days we spent with the girls it was immediately apparent that they loved sports.   Before we met them they had started a volleyball match amongst themselves, I joined in and was surprised how great they played and really tried to ‘bump, set, splice’.  We later talked to the P.E. teacher and he explained that the girls play volleyball, kho kho, soccer or handball each day.  The girls are passionate about football and would like a proper football pitch at their school, they even made a great model of the future pitch.” – Brooke Gasaway

“Physical education is very important to the girls who start each school day with sport, and practice or enter tournaments on Saturdays.  They watched the football World Cup in 2010 and love Ronaldo.” – Diana Mihai

“Speaking with the school P.E. teacher I learnt about the school house system.  The children belong to one of four houses which give them an identity within the school.  The four houses are named after four holy rivers in India; Gangh House (blue), Yamuna House (red), Indus House (yellow) and Saraswati House (green).  Each child wears as part of their uniform a name badge and ribbon in the colour of their house.  Sport, painting, dance competitions and quizzes are organised where the houses compete against each other.  It would be great if we could help to reinforce the house competitions possibly introducing new events, creating scoreboard and introducing areas of colour for house zones.” – Fergus Knox

Tsering Tachi (the P.E teacher, who has been helping us) also spoke about the benefits that could be achieved if the school buildings could be improved to make them comfortable in the winter.  At the moment the girls are at home for 3 months over the winter when there is little work that can be done on the land, but are in school over the summer when their families would benefit from their help with the farming.

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