Don and I had the chance to work with the Auntie Karen Foundation, founded by Karen Alexander-Banks: a dedicated human with a love for children’s education and their empowerment. So for short stints between 2016 to 2019 we worked with the Foundation to teach music, visual arts, and Kiswahili in Timmonsville, Bishopville, and Greeleyville ~ South Carolina
For four weeks, the summer-camp students in Timmonsville, and I, had fun learning Kiswahili, and some of Tanzania’s traditions. We made up songs, created art, told stories, and talked about geography. One of our final projects was to present Tinga tinga art each child made in our class, and to sing in Kiswahili. The picture above is of some of the children with their work, on the last day of camp.
Oh how pretty those Greeleyville roads are; though some laden with heavy history.
We got to be the music and art teachers in Greeleyville, for about four months. This was during autumn/winter, so on the way to school we got to see some really crisp and beautiful sunrises.
The students who came to our classes ranged from preschoolers to fifth graders. Man oh man it was fun and challenging, I daresay, for all of us! One really cool thing that happened, is that the district’s superintendent held an art contest in March, and even though we had to move to Florida before the contest took place, I had the distinct pleasure of working with the two students who represented their school at the contest! It was moving to hear them explain why they chose to create their individual pieces, so I took their lead and stood by with technique assistance or encouragement for them to do the best job they could. Look at what they created:
The drawing on the left is of a girl who went through cancer and beat it! She is feeling thankful as she recollects the various stages of her life as she fought cancer out of her body. This is the work of a fifth grader!
The drawing on the right is of a girl (the artist) and her brother as ninjas, in a place full of bubbles. They are together as they always look out for one another. This is the work of a preschooler!
I held tryouts for everyone who wanted to submit their work for consideration. It was an important exercise in fairness and justice, and I’m glad we went through it together.