MariElena Granger reminisces about her work in Zambia.
We began in 2008 with a three-day basic class founded by a grant from the Jean Houston Foundation. I taught the Social Artistry class in 2011 to 24 students, graciously and ably assisted by Deborah Plummer, visiting Social Artistry trainer. Now in the fourth year the students are taught the basic three-day course by the Zambian teachers. I then teach the graduates from the three-day course an eight-day Training of the Teachers class and then they are interns in the Zambian teachers’ classes for a year. The following year the interns teach an exercise to my class, and if they do well they become teachers. The first group I taught for three years. Now I will only have students for one class. Hmm…I will miss the comradeship and familiarity that developed over three years, but I think this is the best system – at least the best I know at this time.
The trip was – as always – a formidable experience, covering most adjectives in the English language, but the Zambia Social Artistry (ZSA) teaching just gets better! This was the eight-day Training of the Teachers course and most of the students were young, very young, and well prepared previously by the basic course taught to them by our seven Zambian teachers. They all had high school diplomas and we even had a college graduate! The curriculum included almost all the exercises from all of the Four Levels of the Social Artistry curriculum. We graduated one full new teacher and twenty assistants.
The first movie night ever in Kashikishi was on the beach. We began with a screening of the ZSA documentary (if you haven’t seen it you can – just search “Zambia Social Artistry” on YouTube). The students mostly squealed through the video as many had never seen themselves on film. We then watched the movie “Ray”, the life of Ray Charles. We later used his life to go through the exercise, The Hero’s Journey.
The students used watercolors for the first time and received dynamite instruction from Deborah Plummer, so they were using a new art medium in a whole new way, igniting all sorts of neuro pathways to paint symbols and heroes. Silly me! I thought this was their art project for the class, but they then all bemoaned the fact that they were not going to have hats for graduation like the class of 2010, so our intrepid facilitator ran off hours before graduation on a Sunday to get paper for the hats. The shop was closed and the owner was in church, where he found her and beseeched her to sell us thirty pieces of pink oak tag. The students were very, very pleased. Our facilitator exemplifies once again our ZSA motto ” Making the Impossible Possible”.
The students’ enthusiasm is palpable, their ability and willingness to make changes inspiring and heart rendering. The Trim Tab exercise resulted in a nursery school. All of the students pledged to help in some capacity, even the visiting teachers and interns from the class of 2010.
I have received a recent email that they have all met and agreed on a constitution. I am so grateful to be their teacher, so very happy that I learned The Social Artistry curriculum back in 2008 in Ashland and am able to see its beauty every year. I am ever so grateful to Give A Jumpstart for the infrastructure to make these classes possible. Both Give A Jumpstart and Zambia Social Artistry are committed to staying in this community until we see a tipping point. The improvement of the living conditions for women will now be measured with the criteria established by the Grameen Bank. Uniformly, all of our graduates of Zambia Social Artistry speak of changes in attitude, vision and the initiation of new projects, and many credit us for jobs, promotions and ambition. When I do move on from Zambia Social Artistry, I will leave behind an entire infrastructure and network of teachers, assistant teachers and a facilitator to continue this impactful work.