Tuesday, July 29, 2008

PNGC Week 6: A Young Man's Mind

Last week's lesson/craft combo was 'A Young Man's Mind' and appliquéing bags. The objective of the lesson was for the girls to understand the changes taking place in boys as their mature, both physically and emotionally. Critical pieces of the lesson included how to safeguard oneself from unwanted advances, whether verbal or physical. The discussion questions at the end of the session brought out some giggles, but serious conversation as well. Mma Motebele asked the girls what they would do if a boy was giving them unwanted attention or admiring parts of their body. One of the girls responded she would tell them 'O a yaka' (you are lying!--a commonly used phrases here with our learners), while another responded she would kick him. We tried to talk her out of that one, but we were pleased she was engaged in the conversation. The answer I had been waiting for came at the end of the conversation when one girl said if a boy wouldn't stop touching her, she would go to a PNGC leader or a policeman. Excellent.
After wrapping up the lesson, the girls started appliquéing butterflies onto bags using the blanket stitch. I have found there are small skills, skills I take for granted, which the girls haven't learned how to do yet. For example, many don't know how to tie an over handed knot at the end of a piece of thread, or how to thread a needle. This has presented great learning opportunities for me in things to be teaching them in upcoming weeks and how to continue making small improvements in our crafts for next year. The majority of the girls seemed to get the hang of the blanket stitch by the end of our session, and proudly modeled their bags for all of us.
It has been so fun for Paul and I to walk around our community, or come to school, and see our leaders and girls wearing/carrying their own creations. We're always so pleased to see that sense of accomplishment when the leaders and girls conquer a technique and have a finished product to take home with them. I know they are showing family members and friends what they're doing, as many have come back to me asking if their sister, mother, auntie, etc. can make a pair of earrings. We're hoping the girls will use these opportunities as times to be teachers instead of learners, sharing their skills with other women in the community. In Tswana culture, it doesn't happen very often where children teach their elders. We're working on giving the girls some skills to do so, hopefully bringing them closer to other female members in the community by a shared bond: a love for the arts, and the creation of something special.

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