And Now Our Work Begins

We seem to be having ongoing issues logging in, so this is ABIGAIL writing not Helen!

We had our first sessions with the KIE Level One students today. Joey, Patrick, Abby, Andre, and Suzu started the day with a Playbuilding session, where they used a folktale as a jumping-off point for devising short original scenes inspired by that story. My colleagues worked from the story of Nakabiwha, an African folktale similar to our western Cinderella. The KIE students and I greatly enjoyed seeing the facilitators pantomime the story as Patrick narrated the action, and Joey and Andre made wonderful wicked cousins. After a series of exercises that gave the students a chance to explore different ways of thinking about and presenting stories, the students developed their own scenes. They took different themes from Nakabiwha’s story and applied them to situations familiar from their own experiences. It was wonderful to see Nakabiwha’s story resonate across so many modern contexts.

Next, Channie, Mel, Linda, Michael, and I led the students through a drama-in-education session. Though five of us were facilitating, the strength of drama-in-education is that its conventions can be employed by one teacher in a classroom setting. Since many of our KIE students may become teachers someday, we hoped these conventions might be of use to them in their future classrooms. We used the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes to explore generational differences, and all of us were powerfully affected by the insights the students had on the topic. At the end, Mel led an activity called Circle of Hope, where everyone had the opportunity to take something they valued from what previous generations had to offer, and put in something of their own to build a better tomorrow. Hearing the students speak about what they wanted to take and what they had to offer was an almost spiritual moment for me. The more Rwandese I meet, and the more time I spend with them, the more I am struck by their love for their country, and by the work they undertake together to secure their hopes for the future.

We headed to the African market in the afternoon, with Alphonsine and Steven as our guides. There was so much to see and buy: masks, baskets, jewelry, carvings, fabric, and more. Alphonsine graciously consulted with us on prices and let us know which ones were too high. I ended up buying more gifts than I’d anticipated getting, and some of you reading this blog will find out what those gifts are later.

We returned to the hotel, and discussed and reworked our sessions over another delicious dinner. I know many of us are excited to see what happens today, when we lead our sessions again.


About hkwmaat

Faculty member for the MA in Applied Theatre at the City University of New York School of Professional Studies. Also the Director of the CAT Youth Theatre at the Creative Arts Team.
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