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Tag Archives: Art education

Last year my high school students created two large scale murals on the school walls. One in the hallway between the music and art room and one outside on the walkway to the canteen. When I first started painting murals I sort of had to teach myself the correct way. I was not taught the right way to measure or grid. Didn’t even know how to grid until the job at the NJ Devils stadium. So its pretty amazing to me that I can teach it properly now. Watching them take initiative and act as a successful group inspired me to create a new Service Learning group The Meaningful Mural Project. Service Learning happens every other Friday at ASOY (the American School of Yaounde, where I teach). Our school reserves half the day for students to come together into groups to find ways to help or impact the community. Last year I was in charge of 8th grade, and their Sanitation Project. We focused on boiling water. A lot of villagers won’t boil their water because they consider it a waste of fire wood. Unfortunately well water can carry cholera and other diseases.

An example of a cook stove we made out of mud

We learned how to make ‘improved cook stoves’ out of mud and went into a village to educate the villagers about how to build them. During this experience we also learned how cooking by an open fire can cause cancer and blindess, there for making the the continuation of the project important to try and perfect the process as well as educate more of the community

This project is still continuing with other teachers, while I have chosen to teach my students something more personal to me that maybe other art teachers in the future may not be able to. The Meaningful Mural project is stemmed from the mural arts program in Philadelphia, USA. There are over 3,000 murals in Philly. Each placed in neighborhood’s that will benefit from their presence. You can learn more about this at www.Muralarts.org.

A mural can affect a community positively, while teaching the local children a craft that will afford them a skill for their future.  So this week my 10 students, that have chosen this project, will be visiting the Cameroon Catholic orphanage Foyer de l’Esperance, where they will have a chance to see the environment they’ll be working in. They will meet the kids they’ll be working with, and interview them to provide information for research.

A wall in the orphanage my students may be painting.

Students will use this information to choose appropriate imagery that the children will identify with in a positive way. At the end of this project the orphanage will be left with a piece of art that will hopefully help those students feel important on a daily basis as well as many generations to come.

Last week I gave a slide show and used podcasts about the ‘mural mile’ self tour in Philly to teach the students about how subjects are chosen and why they affect those specific types of  neighborhoods. We talked about the economics of the people, what their families might be like, and why they would be affected by this picture. We discussed the way the image was laid out in ‘composition’, why that was important, and how the colors made them feel. If you want to go through the power point and see what the students learned about click on this link:

Service learning Murals PowerPoint presentation.

I’m really excited, and want my students to feel the impact they will have on these kids lives. Its hard to project this ‘affect’ to students by just telling them. This week should be interesting, I will get to SEE my students be leaders  (hopefully) and  interact with kids using knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom through bilingual interviews (the orphanage is francophone). Wish us luck!

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The whole academic year is a week away from being over. I feel like I’ve done mostly what I came here to do, missed the boat on some things but over all have learned a lot about myself. Last Wednesday was the school art show which included two finished murals that my students kicked a$$ with. They were definitely show stoppers.

‘Because All Dreams Fly’

   

This mural you saw begin a few months ago at the art show we had a slide show playing of all the students working through out the process. This is the final product:

‘A Whisper Through Fantasy’

  

The rest of the art show went really well, I was able to show pre-k through advanced high school. It was fun to watch the kids search out their own stuff and discuss each other’s work.

 

Next year can only be better Bonne journee Cameroon!

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So yes, I know, I’ve been absent from this blogging thing. Where the heck was I!? A lot has happened this month. I’ve gotten to see gorilla’s, bats that live around the corner and gone boating in a hollowed out tree, killed my 1st shoe size cockroach, named a gecko that I think is still living in or has died in my bedroom, and bought a 6,000 dollar 1997ish (not really sure on the year) Toyota Corolla (remember the taxing I talked about in my previous blog…). In short, Yaounde has been a very interesting and challenging place to move to. The last month has been filled with wonderment, and major homesickness… But luckily the people here are kind, and I am starting to form new friendships. When I arrived here three weeks ago I felt like getting comfortable was a ridiculous challenge. The driving here is like NYC taxis on speed, there really aren’t any benches so sitting and observing is not really an option with out being savvy. Even taking pictures of people is awkward (many don’t like it) and there is so much to photograph! Although I still think it is challenging and intimidating, it is no longer ridiculous to imagine calling this place a home away from home. Life is simple here and Cameroonians feel a lot of pride in their culture. The clothing is colorful, and the food is spicy.

I’m learning a lot about myself. Like how to ask others for help instead of always going it alone. With the locals, a smile gets you a long way and there are a couple bars where I can sit and observe people, I just have to push my self to find these places on my own. Now that I have a car, I feel freer. Driving is sort of fun. (it’s a lot like city driving and feels better when your not a passenger). I haven’t been able to drive with out following or having someone in my car. The roads are jumbled and unnamed, I got lost walking around the corner the other day, so memorization is the way to go. I am not the most talented in this area but I’m keeping the faith, and I can drive to the school now!

The school is pretty great. The students are smart and have tons of potential. The classrooms are set up like a regular American school, but the hallways and gym are outdoors. My office and art room over look the street and rec center’s pool and I have an excellent view of the mountains.

So now that I’ve made you all wait patiently, I will try and keep up with this more!

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