Scraps of insight
Each time I try to write specifically about what these past three weeks at cultural training in Colorado have been like, I find the entire experience difficult to explain. I'm not sure which angle to approach it from or how to take the mass amount of information, stories, and lessons we've learned and apply a cohesive meaning. Mike likened it to the familiar "drinking from a fire hose" analogy, which helped me visualize why it has been difficult to stop and reflect. There is a lot coming at us all at once.
So rather than write much I figured I'd share from part of Winnie's 5-year old perspective, as her paper trail offers insight and a taste of what we are doing here.
But first let's start with one of the signs from our adult classroom...
Adult and kid lessons are turned into signs, and posted all over the classroom to appeal to visual learners! These concepts are woven throughout everything we learn and made-up the basis of the first week of teachings.
This is the whiteboard going in to Winnie's 6-student classroom. "Para-ducks" (aka paradox) was the first lesson learned, recognizing that moving internationally (and life) is a paradox. You can feel really bad and sad about some things (leaving loved ones) while at the same time feeling really good and happy about other things (new adventures).
There are 2 rubber duckies that sit in each classroom, one named 'Yay' duck, representing the good stuff. The other is named 'Yuck' duck, which is anything negative. They always stick together. It's a very simple way to access and give voice to complex and competing emotions. The kids can also now talk about their 'yays and yucks'.
This is exuberant Mrs. Anna, Winnie's teacher (and sometimes Piper, because that's where her big sister is so they let her learn with them too). All the staff here have spent significant portions of their life overseas. Mrs. Anna grew up in West Africa, speaks fluent French, and the kids adore her.
A blurry picture but nonetheless "Sparkly" may be my favorite! An example of a worksheet Winnie was working on when I picked her up from class. I'm thankful for how the teachers have designed their lessons so we can also get a glimpse of what is going on inside our kiddos hearts during this transitory time. These are also questions I may not have considered asking my girls on my own.
New experiences! Almost at the top of Pikes Peak (14,115 ft) with my dear family who came to visit us here. My Uncle Niels and Aunt Judi, along with their 4 grown daughters, have spent most of the last 30+ years living internationally- including Africa (Cameroon, Madagascar, Congo). I was really thankful they and my cousin Yanni made the trip here, and that we got to spend some quality time together. They had so much wisdom to share!
More new experiences! Mrs. Anna lets them draw something from their day on the whiteboard.
All week they are encouraged to do things they've never done. The first week they went on a field trip without being told where they were going... Winnie loved not knowing, and was energized by the experience.
"This is us eating seaweed today. And we also ate rice with our hands."
(side note: This is the first time I've seen Winnie draw from an aerial perspective- which I found intriguing)
After having a kids-only night of singing and drumming with a few of her new friends, she ran into our room and said "Mom! I NEED to write songs!" She grabbed a marker, drew some lines, ran back out, and returned with this collaborated effort (these are lyrics of a song she sang).
You are here.
Working in this place.
I worship you.
I worship you.
Light in the Darkness.
My God, that is who you are.
If tonight these are the truths that are inspiring my child, I go to bed a thankful woman for this journey we are on.