Updated: Jul 5, 2018
“Velkomme til Belong Kunst Projekt” said Lucy, as she presented the project to the children, whilst unrolling a long sheet showing the sketched passages we will go through in the next weeks in Jelling. The participants today were nine kids from Røde Kors Skolen, guys and girls from a non-danish background, who arrived in Denmark in the last couple of years. Their faces, at the beginning a bit confused and curious, mirroring the clumsy danish coming from our mouths.
Lots of laughs accompanied their attempts to translate how we were introducing ourselves. After making coloured name stickers, more fun arrived with Mike, our music facilitator, who led the children into a dance session to the beat of his drum. Thanks to the “people-to-people” dance, the tension in the room resided and we could start with the plan for the day: head boxes. The task was to build 3D boxes representing the interests and passions of the children, using all the materials they could find in Remida Centre for reuse: bottles’ caps, plastic spoons, oranges’ nets, keyboards’ parts, and much, much more.
It has been great to observe how the children were “hanging around”, wayfaring the space, timidly observing and exploring the various opportunities available in the room to feed their creativity. An initial silence turned soon into an excited whispering between them, exchanging ideas about which material to choose and what to use it for. “This blue thing looks like a computer”, “I want to have a sun in my box”, “which colours are on the Real Madrid’s emblem?” or “which number is on Messi’s t-shirt?”. The power of fantasy took over the initial incertitude, and worlds of chicks playing with cow-pins, football players eating pizza and computers with magic buttons for tele-transportation, came out from raw pieces of plastic, textiles, and pink pearls.
Even though they were concentrated on putting themselves into personal creations, it was impossible not to notice the genuine and organic collaboration between the group members, from the basic help with managing glue pistols, to giving advice and suggestions about alternative techniques for building new elements for the head boxes.
The teachers of Røde Kors Skolen had a fundamental role in the workshop, firstly by supporting the children’s ideas, but also helping out Culture Shift staff with the translation process and the whole morning management.
Once finished with the artistic production, we got back together with the children in a circle, where they started to describe how they put together their head boxes, why they chose certain elements, and the aesthetic reasons behind colours and materials. I found incredible the nonchalance and the courage of the children in presenting their work in front of the group, reflecting on their own creations, and how easy was for them to connect fantasy handmade elements to their daily life and stories.
The head boxes were representation of the kid’s own personality, showing with simplicity what they love to eat or what they like to play with, their hobbies, favourite animals and also their dreams for the future.
The last part of this first workshop consisted in evaluating the activity. The children have been asked questions like “what did you like the most in this workshop?”, “ what could be improved next time?” and “ what would you do if you had more time?” Again, what is usually a pretty dry and analytical tool as the process evaluation, became really fun, visual, and interactive: the children had to stick arrows on a piece of paper, deciding between the “fun” column and the “not fun” one. They had the responsibility of an anonymous vote, and sent one by one to place their sticker, they gave feedback based on their personal experience of the morning with Culture Shift. This last part was the further confirmation of a “child-lead” process, something that Rachel, Amanda and Lucy cared to highlight when they introduced me to the Belong project, a space for children to explore and create their own conception of what it means to have fun and feel at home in a place.
It has been an exciting and stimulating beginning, tak for det! Looking forward to the next workshop!