Monday, August 31, 2015

Create Your Voice Take 2

Our first camp in March was such a HUGE success and the girls loved it so much that we decided to hold another camp in July between holiday breaks. The boys had been howling so much about not being involved in the first camp that we decided it was time to try a gender empowerment approach that was co-ed. After all, how can there be equality between gender if both sexes are not a part of the conversation?

We had a different set of outstanding PCVs this time: Cody Reed, Beccy Burelson, Justin Krohn, and Shelby Spear. It's kind of insane how great Peace Corps Volunteers truly are!

This camp was a lot like the last one. We used a GrassRoot Soccer curriculum that focused on HIV. We added some gender empowerment components, and of course kept the most successful part of the camp: creative arts.

We should never take even our "smallest" experiences for granted. 
In the US, knowing how to use scissors is a requirement to pass kindergarten
In Malawi, this might be the first time a student has used them. 
Having a co-ed group provided some challenges, however, not quite the challenges we were expecting. Due to cultural norms and anecdotal data from teachers we expected girls to act a certain way in the presence of boys. Girls would be more shy, have less English comprehension, and not work as hard as the boys. 

 FALSE. All of these things were false!

The boys needed HUGE amounts of coaxing to join conversations, they had a much harder time understanding English, and the girls and boys worked equally as hard.
Discussing facts and myths about HIV

At some point I have worked with most of these girls doing gender empowerment lessons; driving home the point that they are just as important as boys, can be just as smart, and they deserve to have a voice among all people.

I guess it worked! The girls rocked the show. They brought meaningful conversation and questions to the table and by the end of the week were leading games and praises.

Gender Stadium: Girls and Boys take turns listening to
challenges that gender roles present to both sides.
There are times during a Peace Corps service that you KNOW you are doing good. You are doing what you came to do and you are proud of your service. July 23 to 27 was a distinct example of knowing I'm in the right place at the right time.

I could not be prouder of my learners!
Students viewing their work at the gallery walk during graduation

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