Thursday, 19 March 2015

Saying thanks and leaving things behind

After two days of wrapping up, we packed and heading for the airport on Saturday.  I must admit I've often felt fresher, and I was quite looking forward to the tedium of sitting down and watching Africa slide by underneath.  Thursday was taken up with a morning of prep and then our final workshop, where we discussed a fine cut with the group, did some interviews and then spent some time saying thank you and goodbye properly.

Letting go is an important part of group work and there're all sorts of things that I think work well. One, asking everyone to help clear up the space they've been working in, wasn't appropriate this time because the workshops were spread over three locations.  Saying good bye and thank you always seems to fit in though, and I took the opportunity to share a tradition from a video course Rick and I ran: T156 - Digital Film School, where we presented students with hero badges for contributions to the course that made it a better place to study.

With this group, we gave them all hero badges and I asked the group to suggest why for each one. It took some of the energy out of the subsequent suggestion that everyone thank everyone else for something specific, but I noticed quite a few hero badges on show the next day.

Friday was more public. I spent the morning at Nasonjo working up a pre-screening for around 150 students and staff.  There was a cheer every time someone they recognised came on the screen - not easy given the amount of light pouring in from overhead, the ad-hoc nature of the screen and the relatively dim battery powered projector. Afterwards there was time to sit and talk to the teachers at the school I hadn't been working with.  They were really sweet and kind and interesting, poking gentle fun at me and each other, and happy to share the spicy potato cakes I'd bought at the Indian shop in town on the way out.

Eventually the car came and found us and we piled out at the main event where chaos was being shaped in to order and I managed to avoid being part of the stage party, something I always try and avoid on account of being too fidgety to be on show.  The screening was preceded by full pomp, with speeches, introductions and dancing beforehand and more speeches and presentations afterwards.  The dancers were brilliant, and I especially liked the girl guides team, who hung on to their spot in the limelight so tightly it looked like they might need to be carried off at one stage, and the Nkosi Zulu style dancing which had more and more people up and kicking up dust, including Rick and I.

The screening itself hovered on the edge of disaster (and had long before I even got there), using up three projectors and most of Rick's nerves.  The sound crew were local lads who revelled in the opportunity to fill the church hall with their kind of music, once they'd successfully evaded the H&S risks associated with 'plugging' in bare wires into a socket.  Rick had spent the morning doing a sound mix on the video so that it could be played out on speakers the size of small trucks, but in the end the audience were even louder, cheering every time someone from their school appeared on screen and loudest of all for their headmaster.

The important parts of the day for me where the opportunity for our teachers to get recognition for their work from their own community, and to leave behind everything we could so that there'd be something more than memories and questions afterwards.  I spent most of Thursday evening putting together a set of the photos and some of the video on a memory stick for each school, and we left a small flip-style camera behind for each school on permanent loan.  I'm really interested to see whether they use them and what for when we come back sometime.

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