A week has passed by since my arrival. The first day at Daraja felt a little fuzzy. I was tired, sick of plane and car rides and frankly nervous as twenty six girls stared at me as we entered the dining hall. The next day, Jenni took us into Nanyuki (the local town). We visited a local bakery called La Boulangerie (Sp?) and drank mango juice (yum!). I thought the name was pretty funny. Afterwards, we visited two grocery markets, both catered to foreigners. The first grocery market was a mixture of a 99cents store and a supermarket. They sold everything from bedding to chips. After exiting the store, we were approached by two little boys begging for money. Later, I learned that they snort glue or even garbage to make the begging a little easier.
The fun part of the trip was watching Jenni. She walked confidently through Nanyuki and everyone seemed to know her especially a group of guys selling pirated movies!
Over the last four days, Sarah (Montgomery) and I taught soccer and art classes. The girls were divided into two groups: the “A’s” and the “B’s” groupings, and we both shared an hour with each group.
CLAIRE’S DARAJA ACADEMY ART CAMP!: I started off with drawing exercises that focused on looking… For the first class, I set up a still life. I don’t think many of the girls liked it, so for the second class, I asked different girls to model for the class. They seemed to enjoy it a little bit more. After that class, I changed the curriculum around based on their skill level and what I thought they liked. On the third day, I took the girls up to Jenni’s house which has a panoramic view of the whole campus. We worked on landscape drawing and watercolor. That was the first day I started to spot their creativity.
Every painting had bright and cheerful colors; one of the girls actually put a hippo into their painting! In the afternoon, during the second class, it rained, so we moved inside to Jenni’s living room. I think that was the first class I felt comfortable. They tried to teach me a Kikuyu song (the same song we danced to the night before) and laughed at my pronunciation. In return, I tried to teach them the only Chinese song I know. We didn’t get passed the first line, but it was still fun. I think what also helped was the music, after Beyonce was turned on, everyone was singing “to the left to the left”, even Andy.
On the third day, I focused on perspective drawing and mark-making. I think only about half of the students really got the idea of perspective, but it went better than I thought it would. For the mark-making part, I passed out animal books and ask them to pick an animal and draw it. After that, I asked them to outline the animal and encouraged them to make different marks on their animal. The animal drawings are AMAZING! I got really excited by the results, so I decided to challenge them more by doing self portraitures. I think it was a little too hard.
Overall, I think the girls improved; I definitely can spot some talent. Most of the girls were not exposed to art, so they struggled with it for the first few days.
They are also developing a sketch book habit. I was so excited when I walked into class one day, and they were voluntarily drawing in their sketch book. Also, the girls began to open up to me which was great because I definitely enjoyed the classes more. In the first day of class, everyone was so silent, but thankfully, by the end of the last class, they were talking, singing, and picking songs from my iPod. Personally, I struggled with the communication. Some of the concepts like perspective were really hard for me to put into words. Also, being a relatively shy person, it was nerve racking to stand up and teach.
At night, Sarah and I truly built a bridge with Daraja and the girls. Saturday night, we started off with a name game (which I failed miserably and got out in the first round), and afterwards they taught us a Kikuyu dance. On top of that, they perform