Thursday, 25 June 2009

GX Week 11

Monday 1st June

It is becoming difficult to think of something new to write everyday. I may have to stop soon. After a day alone at work (Olga went to watch a presentation that Aigera was giving at her placement), where I marker papers, worked out the answers to a health and safety crossword and helped Amy out with my political knowledge while we planned a lesson on citizenship, we gathered in Harlow town park to celebrate Beths birthday. Grace had made another fantastic cake and we shared a bottle of bucks fizz like very sophisticated teenagers. My very thoughtful secret friend bought me some antihistamine cream after I spent half our time in the park complaining about my inflammed insect bites.

Beth blowing out the candels

Tuesday 2nd June

I must be doing something useful at e2e as people keep saying that they don't want me to go. I have started to realsie what a bad team player I am. If there is a task to do I would almost always choose to do it myself, but is that always a bad thing?

Wednesday 3rd June

I remembered something today that I wanted to write about. While talking to a learner a while back they expressed shock about having known another learner who is now serving time in prison. They didn't think that their friend was capable to their crimes. It got me thinking about how you can never really know a person and the different ways people can act in a different environment. Durind todays citizenship lesson one learner spent half their time arguing that he wasn't interested in politics and that it didn't affect them and then the second half of the lesson about legalising cannabis and the Iraq war. Sometimes I think we stiffle debate too much in the classroom, through fear someone will say something innappropraite, which they p
robably will. However, I believe in what John Mills said, that you need public debate in order to discover the truth and expose bad ideas. From what I have overheard it doesn't sound like we have any budding BNP supporters despite the jokes and throw away comments. Yes we run the risk of upsetting people but if ideas are not allowed to be voiced then how can they be challenged and/or changed.

Thursday 4th June

Today was our last official day at our placement but I like mine so much that I'm going in on Tuesday and Wednesday too. These are free days and I think I would get bored otherwise. I don't think it could take me 2 days to pack. It was the last official day for some of the learbers too so we had some cake to celebrate. It was a good day. I researched dome music courses at local colleges and helped a learner with their CV before whizzing through some Clait ITC coursework and then watching Slum Dog Millionaire in the afternoon. As I wondered around town after work I ran into half the learners again and ended up sitting at the computer next to one in the library. Our debrief meeting finished in record time with everything more or less orgainsed. At 7pm we went for our last african drumming class. I finally remembered my video camera and managed to film some of the dancing.

Friday 5th June

Today was meant to be our last GCD but due to Christians departure it became a '
team day' instead. We all duely arrived at 9:30 am to find that no one was there so we began making decorations for the community farewell. Jakira turned up around 10:30 and got us all to talk about our experiences and learning so far. Dinara got very upset when talking about her placement saying that she hadn't enjoyed it at all as she hadn't been able tohave any contact with people. It came as a shock to me as I had no idea that she felt that way. Again there were complaints about the lack of Community Action Days (CADs). I feel bad for Sarah as she was on the committee and always to seems to have to end up defending herself for that. She's not the only person in the team responsible for CADs, everybody is. As I said then I think our team relies too much on the committee structire, we need to help each other out and if we want something done we need to take the initiative. Jakira sis her best to steer the discussion away from volunteer placements and on to other aspects of the programme such as individual learning, then conducted a 'team health check'. We had all been quite happily bobbing along ingoring any problems. We didn't identify any major problems but there seemed to be alot more minor ones than I realised. We did acknowledge that some problems were natural in a big team such as the formation of smaller social groups. Sometimes I felt bad standing at the no problem end of the scale while others were standing by the sad face. It made me think again that perhaps I don't focus on the team as much as I should. We agreed to make more effort getting to know people in the team that we don't usually socialise with and to give our team more direction. To this end we quickly brainstormed a list of team aims, including, surprise, surprise more CADs! It seems like peoples main concern with the team is a lack of community action. I wonder if currently the two are mutaully exclusive. We need to strengthen the team without neglecting the community. What that means is less socials and shopping and more working together on community events. Finally Jakira asked us to write down an issue from this phase that we wanted to let go of for the second. I wrote ‘not to force relationships with people’ as I am just stressing myself out worrying about why I get on better with some people than others. I need to allow relationships to form naturally. That’s not to say that I want to give up on these relationships completely. I just want to stop worrying and stressing about them. After Jakira left we returned to our decoration making, deciding that world leaders should be made to create paper chains together to bring about world piece. We then ran through a role play about our experiences in the first phase and a traditional English and Kazakh dance to perform at the community farewell. As we were wrapping up the Kazakhstani volunteers suddenly became involved in a serious group discussion with Aigera only telling us that there had been a ‘misunderstanding.’ Us UK volunteers had absolutely no idea what was going on. We felt rather put out and wondered if the ‘misunderstanding’ was with us. Apparently it was not. Ali asked and they said that they were only trying to figure out ways to improve their experience of the program. It seemed like the day left a sour taste in everyone’s mouths. I met Ben on the bus coming back from Eufa’s after watching Moulin Rouge with the girls. All he could do was laugh about it saying he hadn’t realised there were so many problems.

Saturday 6th June

Went to watch Kazakhstan v England in the football world cup qualifiers at JRs in Bishops Stortford. I was on my guard for a while, sat in a bar full of football fans surrounded by people waving Kazakh flags and shouting ‘GO KAZAKHSTAN!’ I only relaxed after apart from the occasional turned head everyone pretty much ignored us. It probably helped that England won 4-0. It might have been a different story had the score been different. After dinner I enjoyed the juiciest mango I’ve ever eaten. It was messy but so worth it. I would like to go to Dominica where Ilma is from and be able to pick them straight from the tree as she describes.

Sunday 7th June

Today was the community farewell, which we held in St. Andrews new church hall. At first I was disappointed by the poor turnout. Despite having invited everyone only 6 of the host homes came and 1 volunteer placement. Once we got going however I really started to enjoy it. We presented a role play incorporating everything we have done and experienced since the start of the program, sang a song in Russian and performed traditional Kazakh and English dances. Then Grace showed an absolutely amazing film she had put together from photos and Aigera’s video camera of everything we got up to during the first stage. It was so good that I had to out it on my memory stick immediately. This was followed by a presentation of certificates and chocolates for the host homes in attendance. We ended unsurprisingly with a display of African drumming and dance. I gave my video camera to Ali and finally managed to get a record of just how out of time I am, making a lot of promises to send people DVDs in the process. As I was sitting staring at our banner a rather brilliant if cheesy idea came to me. You can’t spell ‘exchange’ without ‘change’. Hopefully by just being in the community we have we have made changes, both with the community and in ourselves.

Our little African dancing troup with Efua and Kofi, Beth, Grace, Dinara's and Aigera's host home and African drumming and dancing teachers.

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