Sunday, May 3, 2009

Humana, Humanity and Art

We finally reached our destination - the Humana School at Tomanggong – and both teachers and students eagerly awaited us. After the initial greeting outside by Junecel and her mom, who were teaching together, I got a chance to freshen up, and then I stepped into the classroom full of waiting children. What a greeting I got! They all stood up and sang a greeting song for me – all 120 of them! Looking so bright and cheerful in their yellow and green school uniforms and big bright smiles!
It was so touching and heart-warming to see their enthusiasm and sincerity! I was moved to tears, it was an indescribable feeling I will never forget! I get teary-eyed just thinking about it again! I knew instinctively already that these children were going to give me so much more than I could ever give them - they gave my trip it's true meaning and purpose!
However, I could not wallow in my emotions, it was time to get busy, and we got all the supplies in, and quickly made a plan for how best to get the paints, palettes and brushes distributed to the children. After a brief introduction it was decided that since the children had waited past their lunch break it would be best to let them go home for lunch, and then do the art class when they returned in the afternoon. So Faizal took me to my guesthouse – the plantation manager had already been by on his motorbike to give me the key and informed me that there would be breakfast, lunch and dinner served at the Tomanggong Clubhouse. So Faizal and I had lunch at the Clubhouse before returning to the school. Junecel was already there, and her and I started setting up the palettes with the 3 primary colors, distribute paint brushes and water and tissue for each child – so we were busy trying to get everything done in time for the students. As they returned they eagerly followed our preparations and helped distribute everything to the desks – they were practically tripping over each other they were so excited to help out!

I was planning on teaching them about the primary colors, and how to mix them to create the secondary colors, and then just give them the very basic watercolor techniques, before letting them paint their own painting. I had brought the displays we had made for Annabelle's "P for Painting" project, and then made some additional paintings to illustrate what I wanted to teach them. It was a real test to see if I could capture the attention of 120+ kids ranging in age from about 3 years old to about 14-15 years old! Of course in my favor was that these children love going to school and are like little sponges sucking up any knowledge they can with great enthusiasm – they know going to school is a privilege, and they take full advantage of it – how refreshing!
As we got started I would explain and show in English and Junecel would then translate for the children in Malay – it worked well, and over the next couple of days we perfected our performance, making small adjustments as we found necessary, keeping it really simple for the kindergarteners, and going a bit more in depth with the older kids. It was so much fun seeing the children work concentrated on painting their paintings, even the couple of Mom's there were totally immersed, and I really think they had fun – I sure did!
About 4 PM we were finishing up, and I took photos of all the children with their paintings – as you can see they were more than enthusiastic about it! We packed everything up, ready to go on the road the following day, where we were going to 2 schools, one in the morning and then another in the afternoon. Both part of the Riverview Estates, but about 30-40 minutes away, so I would be picked up by the school bus before 7 AM, and then we would drop off the kids, pick up Juniecel and go on the bumpy, dusty roads through the plantation. I sure was getting tired, the heat and humidity does still affect me, and I was looking forward to a cold 100Plus – my new favorite drink – it's a soft drink that replenishes some of the salts and minerals one looses in this heat - and a cold shower was also on the list of desires!

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