Class & art on Elephants and Bees
Blog by International Intern, Clementine St John Webster
The village school in Mwakoma is incredibly simplistic but despite this, it feels colourful. This is down to the wide eyed and grinning faces that greet me. Kids running between class rooms, leaning out of doors, standing on tiptoes to look as I walk through and all are beaming.
My first class was with the whole upper part of the school around 40 kids aged 8-13. They all squeezed on to desks each with their own pencil clasped in their hands. As I entered they stood and greeted me. I forgot to tell them to sit, so all politely remained standing as I introduced myself and started to talk about what I was going to teach them about until I suddenly realised.
I first brought out one of the Disney-donated posters of an elephant, it was amazing to see their eyes widen with awe and excitment at the picture. I asked who knew anything about elephants for example how old do they live till? At first no one put their hand up, but after a while a tentitive hand went and whispered a number, I awarded the girl with an animal trump card for being brave enough to speak up. From then onwards the sky was full of hands eager to be chosen.
I continued to talk about elephants, the basic facts and most importantly why they are useful for the ecosystem. We also covered the same with, and finally I got to learn how and why, bee hive fences work.
Only some of the kids had farms with the beehive fences but all knew about them, showing how much the bee hives and the project have become part of the community.
I asked for them to draw a poster showing both elephants and bees doing useful roles in the environment and an elephant’s reaction to a bee hive fence.
The posters were wonderful and very interesting. When talking earlier it was clear that most of the kids did know about the dangers of elephants but little knew about the positives. However the posters showed they had inhaled the information about the positives of elephants and were keen to show them in their drawings.
I eventually had the hardest job – picking out first, second and third winners of the art competition. They went to Nzumu, James and Constance. All three were given a t-shirt and the rest got additional wildlife trump cards.
On my second visit to the school I was given a lower school class. All stood about a meter away away from me as I started to talk. Again, when I got out the huge Disney elephant posters there were gasps. I continued ccovering the same topics as the previous class and awarding trump cards to the brave. As I talked, the kids got closer and closer until all were huddled around me staring upwards. Again we did the poster competion but this time they also had coloured pencils adding to the brilliance of the drawings. William, Mathew and Peninah were the winners and were all given bright, colourful Disney Conservation Club t-shirts ……..in both cases, I loved every second of the classes and I hope to go back next week.