Mapping Kos was a experiential walking and drawing workshop in collaboration with Kos Solidarity and the community center of Mandilara 32. The workshop met for 3 months every Tuesday where local, migrant, expat, refugee participants walked through the city they live in documenting what they find interesting in it. The point was to experience the place we inhabit and get to know it better, direct and place ourselves within it by being creative. We would walk and sketch through different parts of the city documenting important landmarks as reference points but also other localities like parks, grocery stores, shops. We encouraged them to write down street names and signs as to practise language. We then all gathered in the Community Center Mandilara 32 where we tried to put what we drew that day in a collective map. The workshop had many volunteers throughout the weeks including friends, parents, seasonal workers, colleagues, and it would have been impossible to do it without their support.
In this project 60 students (age 12-18) participated in its realisation. The running subject of the educational project was "Anti-racism, anti-bullying, social inclusion". The students worked on rough sketches for weeks before we decided on what the mural would be. My friend and colleague, also a refugee from Iraq, Omar was invited to help in the organisation of the project since in Mosul he had worked on wall murals before. Looking at the sketches we found a reappearing constant: figures. All the sketches had some kind of representation of people so it all started falling into place. We cut the figures from about 200+ drawings and put them together in papers. It made sense that for our Social Inclusion Mural, all figures will be included on the wall of our school to communicate the message that there is room for everyone in this school.
The students visited the Archeological Museum of Kos where they undertook the same assignment as my students did in Haiti. They had to pick a sculpture, draw it and recreate it, and then name it and give it characteristics by being guided by some simple questions about this character. When we returned to school they were asked to write a small story about the character they drew. They were free to write in their language and we used the cultural mediators to translate their stories so they can be shared in an attempt to reinforce the community of the classroom. It is very important to cultivate the imagination and also learn to share and express it.
My class English & Creole through Art went on a field trip in the end of the year from their neighbourhood and school in Carrefour-Feuilles to the museum in the ghetto of Grand Rue. The students were a little bit afraid in the beginning because this museum is associated with Vodou culture, something that is a taboo in Haitian society. Slowly they started warming up to the space and Andre Eugene, the founder gave them a small tour. The assistance bd participation of my friend Raphael was key to engaging the students since he is a Vodouiyzan and also very educated. The students with the support of Raphael had so many questions to ask Andre. After they were assigned to pick a work of art that they like and recreate it. They also had to give it a name and characteristics and write a small story in English. It was great because the kids from the ghetto also engaged in the activity. Then one by one they had to present their creation character which was inspired by a work of art in the museum. Art, art making and cultural knowledge as a method to connect, familiarise and fight prejudice.
On Light was a specifically crafted class during my practise/internship with Magda Lambropoulou. I was invited to hold my own class by following the Ministry of Education guidebook which instructed to engage seasonal holidays and celebrations. Since it was Easter, a very big and important holiday in Greece I prepared a presentation and discussion on the significance and use of light through different cultures and religions from India, to Islam, to the African Diaspora, to Orthodoxy. In the meantime, I brought the book of the photography exhibition Wor(th)ship of Tassos Vrettos in the Benaki museum who explored and documented different religions in the Attica area based on immigrant populations. After discussing with the students about multiculturalim, spirituality and ethnicity, they seemed very excited to share their views, I invited them to take a moment to engage in their own little act of spirituality by lighting a candle and arranging it collectively, an act that is familiar to them from Greek Orthodox church, but as we witnessed is a universal thing thats transcends race, culture and religion.
During Children Rights Day we threw a Creole Day Exchange party in collaboration with GwaJeKa, an organisation from Guadeloupe that promotes traditional game culture. With their representatives, Linroz and Miranda we prepared traditional choreographies of the GwoKa that the children performed. We also did tribal face painting connecting to the African heritage of Creole culture, we braided hair, played a lot, danced even more. Through this activity of play and dance we aimed to promote diversity and knowledge for other cultures.
In the summer we went on a photography excursion at the village of Zia in Kos for the first time. The students prior to the excursion attended a presentation on photography and some of the different styles that exist focusing on Landscape, Architecture and People and the combinations among them. This way they were asked to explore these styles and make conscious artistic decisions. We used disposable cameras so all the students were able to participate simultaneously. Some great results came out and we exhibited them during the celebration we held for World Refugee Day. The students were able to speak about the styles that composed their photographs.
Collaboratively constructing, beyond race, gender, ethnicity. A truly beautiful moment where my students, despite their differences, collaborated together to make a natural looking Christmas tree. Although the majority is Muslim, we were surprised as to how much they wanted to celebrate Christmas and make decorations, so we listened to their needs. They were given the idea of making our own tree from natural materials, but I let them figure out its construction with very little intervention. Sometimes there are moments for educators where they can sit, enjoy and reflect on their group activity. Merry Christmas from our little multi-cultural center of non-formal education!
During the month long project Nutrition we did many fun activities with the students. We took photos of our faces and printed them. Inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo we used the technique of collage to make our own portraits with the use of foods, fruits, and vegetables from magazines. It was quite challenging for most of the students to "ruin" their image and make it funny but finally they did and found it amusing.
We also built a grocery store inside a classroom and engaged the students in role playing by shopping. Some picked the fruits and vegetable and then the other was the cashier and had to do the math by finding the prices. This activity engaged them in language and math practise as well as developing their communicational skills.
Finally with the older students we spent some time designing menus in groups of 3-5 by using our cell phones to translate and research. Then the menus were used for a second role playing game taking place in a restaurant. Some were the customers, others the waiters, others the cooks, some even decided to be entertainment by singing.