Final Day at KIE and a Humbling Celebration

This is Channie posting.

Our final presentations of our workshops have now occurred. After a couple of hours of reflection and planning the TO and TIE groups performed for the last time with the entire KIE Level 1 and 2 students. It is amazing how one or two adjustments affected a number of areas in our TIE piece and then generated significant changes. Within TIE we expanded our use of space, changed one or two questions asked to provide participants an easier and more committed transition into role, gave three characters longer and separate moments in the spotlight which helped their followers really know who they were and what their political stance was, and provided each group within the human barometer an opportunity to witness each group’s decision before the final vote took place. The participants were so energized and amped! They were ready for the revolution in such a dynamic way that the room was just buzzing with excitement. The TO group also succeeded at generating a very committed performance and forum which took on a heightened and fruitful experience for them and their participants. After the sessions we convened as an entire group to close out our time together. Many students voiced their appreciation of what they have learned, enjoyed, and a desire for the program to return again. It was a bittersweet moment because it was the final day of work with all 50 students and we have developed such a rich and fulfilling relationship with each other. But we had a party to look forward to in the evening…

Thanks to our fundraising efforts from the April benefit, we were able to host a dinner for all 50 of the KIE students this evening. Practically every student from the program accepted the invitation and joined us to break bread, laugh, share conversation and hug during this beautiful night. The courtyard was a perfect spot for our large group. I had to be sure that I walked around and spoke to everyone, especially since my eating seat had been decided for me by one group of students. I did not want to disappoint, but I also wanted to be with as many of the students as possible. After the meal, we gathered in a circle for a final sharing led by Desire, the student representative for Level 2. He facilitated a marvelous departing ceremony planned by him and the students where we were presented with poems, songs and a beautiful piece of artwork from the KIE students. Students from CUNY and KIE spoke or sung their thoughts and feelings about the journey. I particularly liked that Desire asked us to share what we have learned and appreciated about the Rwandan culture from our time together. Chris and Helen were officially given their titles of “Our Parents” by the students and also presented with a gift. “Our Parents” symbolized the great guidance, care, wisdom and expertise that Helen and Chris have shared over these three weeks and the last year, specifically with the Level 2 students, but also with all of us from CUNY. This is what the students expressed. Helen and Chris returned. They were the familiar faces and energy able to witness the growth from last year to now and to pick-up where the relationships left off and build upon them. Certainly, with the assistance of the CUNY students, but the point that I am trying to get to here is that a constant relationship/ a strong foundation has been developed.  As practitioners   we must recognize that all actions affect this relationship. Building blocks have been planted allowing for an outpouring of creative, intellectual, physical and emotional growth for all. We have a great responsibility to honor this community which has formed and to consciously consider our actions and motivations within the work and the ramifications of it. What messages are we sending? Are they tangible? Are they full of false promises and jargon? I am feeling frustrated at this point, about what I am trying to say, but I will try and tie it together. At times we may think that one moment of contact is insignificant, but tonight proved that every moment is filled with purpose and potential and must not be dismissed as not having impact. There has been great impact that is engraved within our hearts and spirits. Paul, a level 2 student, sent us off with the message that we “are written in gold and bold letters in his heart”.  I wish for all of the students to know that they are engraved in our hearts and that nothing can take this experience from us. May our next steps be empowered by this shared journey.

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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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