Wednesday, March 21, 2007

painting el salvador

wow! two entries in one day! i had some catching up to do. and i just got back from guatemala and want to report on that. i feel like i´m never caught up!

well, we finally finished the map project and i have to say, it was sooo worth all the spilled paint and sun beating down on our necks every day. the primary map project that most volunteers take on is a world map, but because the kids in my school are so young, i knew we wouldn't be able to take on that project. i certainly could have done the world map myself had i wanted to, but the whole point of an activity like this is to include the kids because they need to participate in activities like this. the situation here in el salvador isn't like in the states where kids get all kinds of opportunities to do stuff like this – they don't have art classes (at least they don't in my school), they have very limited school supplies and there are really no resources for arts and crafts and that kind of thing. but the kids here are just like kids everywhere and love being able get their hands dirty and make something – from a tower made of wooden blocks to a huge map on the wall of their school. they were so excited when i told them that we'd be doing the map and like i mentioned before, i tried to get every kid in there doing something.

and as i also mentioned before, was a bit of a mess as we were working with oil-based paint and that meant every spill was pretty much permanent. we were really doing well for a while, but the inevitable happened when one kid who was running near where we were painting, knocked over this whole can of blue paint and it went all over the sidewalk. it was horrible and i was like "whaaaat?" so we cleaned it up as best as possible and there's still a huge blue blob on the sidewalk, but the teachers were like "whatever" so i'm not that worried about it. so anyway, in-between the various meetings and days of no school because of a fiesta and the escuelas saludables, we managed to get the map painted and it turned out fantastic!

what's really great is that the kids can say that they participated in it. i told them the other day during formation (something they do every monday, they all have to gather in front of the classrooms while one of the teachers talks about the "valores del mes" and they do the national anthem and the our father) that they did a great job and we all gave ourselves a round of applause. and i tried to tell them that even if they didn't paint or draw the map, that just by helping tape the newspaper up or giving suggestions helped. one kid gave me advice on what color to paint honduras and guatemala and so i said that that was helping too. it's also cool to overhear the kids talking about the map – like where the different departments are and things like that. the map is so huge, it's really in-their-faces and hard to not look at, so hopefully after seeing it so many times, they'll have el salvador imprinted in their minds. they'll be able to tell anyone each and every department, major body of water and major city in every department by the time they leave 6th grade! so anyways, that's the story of what it was like to paint with kids in el salvador.

and here are the photos!

so this is the wall we started with: half white, half blue (blue and white are like the national colors here....the flag, schools, police stations, etc.)

my face tells the story of the el salvador sun....that damn sun was beating down on that wall every day from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. we couldn't avoid it, though, because those are the hours that the 3rd – 6th grade kids have classes.

so we had to have an entirely white base for the map, so we had to paint the blue half. i had the third graders help with that because they were pretty much too young to do any of the other detailed stuff later.

so after the wall was all white, we started drawing the map. the way the map works is you have a specific set of 8x11 pages (depending on whether you're doing the world map or the el salvador one). the el salvador map is obviously smaller, so there are fewer pages – only eight. if you put all the eight pages together, you have the whole map in front of you. the map is drawn within the squares. it's up to you to figure out how big you want the map. so you figure out how big each square will be and then you just draw as many squares as is required, at the size you decided on. then, after you have all the squares drawn, you have the size of your map. then the kids can draw the map by just following what is drawn in each square on the pages that you started with.

so here are some of the fifth and sixth graders drawing the map.

in this picture you can see the grid lines on the wall and how the kids are following what is on the page to draw the map.

ok, so here is the map after we got it all drawn.

next it was time to paint – here are some of the little kids helping shake up the paint.

here are the fourth graders helping paint the map.

courtney came early for the full moon hike and helped out! oh, do you see how there's that line of blue under the country – where the ocean is supposed to be? well, that was the color we were gonna use for all the water....i had mixed bright blue with white to make a lighter blue...and we had already started painting it – until that crazy kid spilled almost all of that blue paint. so i had to go get some more and just decided to get pre-mixed light blue. but anyways, so ricardo and edwin are painting the ocean with the light blue and we had to paint over the brighter light blue and it took like almost four coats to completely cover that stupid blue line.

so this was what the map looked like about half-done. we made a mistake on the departments of chalatenango/cabañas (the green and yellow departments in the very middle of the map....we painted the little part above cabañas green, but it's supposed to be part of chalatenango)

so after we fixed that and put a second coat of paint on, here are some of the fifth grade girls using chalk to mark where they thought major cities in each of the departments were located.

and wallah! here are some of the kids and the teachers with the final product (the one guy is the new computer teacher, javier, who is 1,000 times better than the guy who was teaching computers last year!).

same picture, only me, mirna and some more kids are in there too.

onto the next project........