Archive for the ‘Arts Education’ Category

Practicing Detachment . . . or at least trying.

Grace and Ronald – Just Married!

June 23

Grace and Ronald are the sweetest newlyweds you will ever meet! Grace is the ITLP Program Director for the Tanzania schools and her husband Ronald, an accomplished musician, will be joining the Teaching Artist team.

It is not easy being bombarded with questions by 5 crazy New Yorkers, but somehow they managed to keep us all calm. Not that we had incredulous demands, but being in a new land with a new language, and a program starting in a day, there are bound to be questions, tons and tons of questions. They have been so helpful, supportive and awesome to hang out with, it makes this collaboration seem so perfect, and the idea of not being around them that much more difficult to handle.

It is way past midnight and I can’t sleep. We all stayed up until an hour ago sharing our games and curriculum, using each other to see what worked and what didn’t, singing, dancing, laughing through it all. All day we’ve tried to pick up as much Swahili as possible, speaking it ever so confidently in a variety of broken phrases, trying to impress ourselves and each other, failing miserably at times, and surprising ourselves at others. Having just met, we are still getting to know each other, not to mention being completely jetlagged, mentally over stimulated, and emotionally who-knows-what – but we still had an incredible day!

Tomorrow Ione and I leave the lodge and head to Mama Tesha’s house. The principal at St. Margaret’s School in the town of Mojamba, she will be hosting us in her house, as the school is located an hour away from the other 2. I’ve only been here a day, and it deeply saddens me that we have to leave. Of course, we know we will have an experience unlike any other, but the idea of not being able to come back and relax with the rest of the team and share our days, our successes and challenges, seems to dampen the spirit . . . for now. I know for a fact that I will feel differently within the week. Until then . . .


Meet Ione!

The lovely Ione lloyd

My  partner teacher, Ione Lloyd and I had our third work session this morning. We are two days away from leaving and we seem to be keeping it together for the most part . . . or so we think? Who knows!

I was having a conversation the other day with someone who had lots of questions about this trip to Africa, and the topic of co-teaching came up. I explained how I had just met Ione a few weekends ago, and we’ve been paired up to work together at the St. Margaret’s School in Arusha. And then I went into this extensive conversation about how we had come up with some pretty darn awesome plans for our workshop. But in my heart I know, (and if you’re a teacher, you know this too!) these ‘awesome’ plans will either work beautifully or fall flat! And we are preparing for both.

That’s what I love about Ione. She brings me back to Earth during the times I get too idealistic in our planning sessions. She becomes my mirror of reality at times, reminding me what we are working with. We’ve by now spent hours discussing, agreeing, disagreeing, working, rejecting, re-working curriculum, but we make sure we’re constantly moving ahead. I look forward to teaching with her, and getting to know her outside the walls of Caffe Bene, which, by the way, is a great meeting spot in the heart of Times Square. Despite their slow service, their waffles are worth the wait. Haven’t tried the pastries yet, but they sure look delishh! The cozy library-esque seating area doesn’t get too crowded, and you can actually get work done in the heart of crazy-tourist-town!

The lists are getting shorter, still lots to be done, and exactly 36 hours to go . . . breathing in, breathing out.

A glimpse into the ramblings of my mind.

ITLP Teaching Artists, past and present.
Photo – Reinaldo Green

I leave for Africa in less than a week. There are lists everywhere, on my phone, on my desk, in my head. I keep checking things off of them, but the lists don’t seem to get any shorter. In the meantime, work keeps coming my way. Yep, that ol’ saying about how if you want to book work as an actor, book a trip somewhere and the work will come pouring in; the saying that I thought would never apply to me; well it just did! And I’m grateful, very grateful, but my mind feels like its ready to explode. I’m trying hard to focus on one thing at a time.

I check Facebook, hoping for a distraction – of course it doesn’t work – too much information in my face. And then I look at this photograph taken a few weeks ago at the International Theater and Literacy Project (ITLP)  training weekend, and calmness ensues. These are some of the wonderful volunteer artists who will be joining me on an adventure in Africa this summer. Teams are headed to Rwanda, Tanzania and Cape Town to work with children, introduce them to the Imagination, teach them Theater, create a play with them, and rehearse for a 3 show run – one for their community, one for a play festival and one for their school. There’s a lot of work to be done!

In the midst of all the lists, I keep thinking – however much we came into the field of the Arts to be amidst creativity, expression and the joys of artistry, the other side to it, the business side, becomes a harsh truth if not embraced immediately. I, for one, am constantly striving towards maintaining a balance between the two without losing heart and patience.

The training weekend was a beautiful experience – everyone was there because they WANTED to be there. No one had to leave to head to meetings, or rehearsals, or other mysterious busyness that becomes such a predominant and sometimes even pretentious factor in our lives as artists. This was a generous group of people who were there to Give with no expectations other than the fulfilling and most likely, life-changing experience this was to be. It was humbling to share the room with them.

Back to the lists. . . Sigh!

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