Pintando La Parva: Afterschool art classes at La Parva school. Viña del Mar, Chile.
Week 7 and 8
We did it. Yesterday I walked through the gates of Escuela La Parva for what very well may be my last time. I gave a speech in front of approximately 30 people in Spanish. We put our final touches on each of the five beautiful murals. We shared sandwiches and cake. I taught my final art class to third graders. I handed out the tshirts that the art teacher and I designed and screenprinted in her house. I hugged everyone goodbye, took the bus home, and took a long nap followed by an empanada in bed.
It is difficult to condense all of the things I´ve accomplished and all of the barriers that I´ve faced in the past three weeks into this post. Firstly, a list of reasons I had to cancel workshops: the school was closed due to torrential rains for two days, the school was closed because the water in the neighborhood was shut off, and because the bus drives went on strike for a day. These minor inconveniences, compounded with the weeks of teacher strikes caused my project to be a bit rocky. Thanks to the amazing team I´ve had supporting me, the confidence of the school, and the unwavering commitment of the art teacher, we never gave up on our vision. And of course, thanks to the wonderful students who participated.
When the strike ended and school resumed as usual, I took the opportunity to do art projects with first through fourth grade classes. We made paper mache masks, painted a handprint tree, and drew self portraits. I learned so much in this short time about how to get these age groups excited about art. I couldn’t believe how difficult and frustrating it was to try and command their attention. I saw some very sweet children treat other sweet children in a violent manner. I also was surprised by the beautiful artwork they created. I made a lot of little friends and answered a lot of really funny questions about life in the states. (Some of my favorites: Do they have the Simpsons in the US? What day in new years? Do you speak Japanese? If you were born in Chile would you be Chilean?)
Right now, I´m feeling exhausted, but happy. I spent the morning meeting with my community partners, NGO 360, to discuss the successes and failures of my project. My relationship with this organization has been complicated by our culture differences, and we were able to address that today. Learning how my presence has better prepared them to work with foreigners in the future is so gratifying. Next I´m going to travel to Quillota to say goodbye to the family of my best Chilean friend. I´m coming back to Saint Paul on Tuesday, and am truly ecstatic to come home.
This experience has challenged me in so many ways. My Spanish has improved vastly, as has my confidence in public speaking and interacting with young children. I will post one more time to share pictures in the next week.
¡Un abrazo a todos mis amigos Chilenos!