More work on the La Vereda Mural

15 Feb

I never knew this before but working on a public community mural (with kids no less) can be really tricky!  I’ve only ever facilitated mural-making teaching inside the classroom where you’ve got a certain degree of control over the environment, and can kind of manage the pace of the work and assist kids with thinking about composition and details.

This is a whooooollllle different ball game.

First, we are working on a fairly trafficked and often noisy street.  It’s not like the constant type of background traffic type noise you find in NYC.  It’s like short clips of relative quiet pierced with the REALLY LOUD BUZZ of the frequent motoconchos (motorbikes) and trucks grinding by.  So loud that you really can’t hear what the person next to you is saying.  On top of that, all of the kids in our class plus practically every kid that walks by wants a chance to paint, and it’s really had explaining to a 6 year old whose language you don’t speak very well that there’s “Just no more space at the moment but if you come back Saturday I promise you can have a chance then.”  I am beyond thrilled that the children in the neighborhood are so excited about the project- in fact I hoped exactly that would happen, but managing so many kids painting all at the same time has it’s challenges.  We don’t really have much set-up time because as soon as the children see us pull up in the car they get so excited, they immediately round up all their friends and before you know it we’re practically swarmed with kids eager to look, see, touch, grab, do, etc, etc.  Getting the children involved in the set-up is something we are trying to get better at, but the seasoned teacher (me) is still learning the language, and though the laid-back musician does the best he can things easily get lost in translation, and as all teachers (and plenty of parents) know- timing is everything when organizing large groups of kids.

Did I mention that Renzo is related to almost everyone on the block in some way?  Well, it’s pretty easy to recognize the guy with the funny hair, and despite the fact that we can have a mob of impatient children waiting for paint, or needing a paintbrush, or we finally have them all listening to instructions, every so often someone passes by and decides that it’s the absolute PERFECT time to catch up and have a conversation with him about his studies, the weather, the meaning of life, & what have you.  I kid you not but he’s actually been handed a beer while we were teaching our class!


So when we met up with the children yesterday evening, it was just kind of par for the course that there was a dark gray rain cloud kind of hanging over our heads the whole time.  We assessed the cloud situation (being the rain experts we are now having lived in Santiago for a few months) and just said let’s go for it and hope for the best.  We got lucky and the weather held out enough for us to work for a good 40 minutes or so before we had to do a mad rush to pack everything up before the rain came down.

It was pretty chaotic with about 12-14 kids working at the same time.  It definitely wasn’t the way I would have preferred to structure the activity (laughing at the word structure here) but the kids who showed up had been waiting since Saturday to paint, and with the impending rain there wasn’t time to rotate small groups so we had to wing it.  We focused on painting trees (matas) and flowers (flores) and a sun (sol).  Despite the craziness I’m happy that the kids enjoyed themselves and love the work they did.  I know this is how murals little layers and spurts.

It’s just a start, but here are some pics:

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Our next session is this weekend and we are almost definitely going to have an even larger group show up. (When we were painting on Tuesday lots of new kids passed by and expressed interest so we just told them to show up on Saturday).  Don’t laugh- but I have a plan to have kids sign in then give them give them a number.  Numbers 1-6 will paint for the first 30 minutes, 7-13 the next half hour, and so on.  The great thing is that they all live so close by that if they’re scheduled for a later painting group they can easily go home and come back when it’s their turn, and we don’t mind being there all day if need be.  I have no idea if this is going to work…but it’s the only way I can think of to accommodate all the children without having total chaos.  I know for sure the smaller groups will make for a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Can’t wait to see what happens at our next class!

xo A

9 Responses to “More work on the La Vereda Mural”

  1. Linda Cavallaro February 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm #

    Beautiful, Annie!

  2. Sharon February 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    Thank you Lord for Annie and Renzo!! You guys are amazing, if there were more people like you in the Dominican Republic there would be more success and prosperity within the community.

    May God Bless You!!!

  3. Bobbie February 16, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Your solution to the many eager children is brilliant. Good preparation for becoming a Mommy! Sounds like you have a good handle on the chaotic situation and the mural is really looking great!

  4. ANA February 16, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    jajajajajaja so having a hard time??? yes i know my community very well they want to talk all the time!!!! good job anne and renzo,,,,papi’house will look great!!!

  5. Kristi February 16, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Wow I am so proud of you. Teaching in school will seem so easy after this! It looks great.

  6. maria blanco February 17, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Hi Anne and Renzo, I want to thanks you guys for the wonderful jobs you are doing in the La Vereda community. By teaching this groups of kids you guys are doing so a great favor, not only to the kids and parents, but more you are helping to encourage those kids to be better young children in the future. Not many children there have the opportunity to learn all that you guys are teaching them. I am sure that painting this mural is hard work with all those kids anxious to participate. Remember this is something they do not have the opportunity to do it and you are providing its to them. O course their will want to have their chance to be taught by you guys. They know their will not have their chance if them do not do it while you guys are there teaching them. Not many people do what you are doing in that community and more important by free. Therefore , once again, Anne and Renzo, thank you for doing so a great job in my community La Vereda. I am sure everybody love you guys. God bless you always. Sincerely Taty.

  7. dominicanroots February 17, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Haha, don’t worry Taty, really we are having lots of fun with the children! I was just joking around in my post sharing the challenges that come with working in a different environment, language, and culture. As a teacher these little things make me laugh because I know from experience that ultimately the children will finish their mural and it will be beautiful. Most of the time when I’ve been involved in a new type of project with a large group of kids there is a bit of a learning curve in how best to plan and structure everything. I think it’s similar to how you and Sharon described your Christmas morning breakfast for the kids there- you just didn’t realize how many children would show up and want to take part, and you were a little unprepared for all the enthusiasm! Mostly Renzo and I are just working out the details that will help our time with the kids run more smoothly- especially because we want everyone to have a chance to paint that wants to. Most importantly it is SO GREAT that there is so much excitement from both the adults and the children in La Vereda and for that we feel so blessed! We are looking forward to our painting session with the kids tomorrow! I will post some pics! xoxo A

  8. pat keegan February 19, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Sorry I havent written to you in awhile been busy Jenn had another baby girl named Kourtney,she is healthy and beautiful just like her sister and That is what I hope for you and Renzo,was tell ing the family all about what you both are doing those children are very lucky to have you both.The mural is absolutely beautiful .Hope to see you when you come back to the states.

  9. dominicanroots February 19, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Thank you Pat & congrats on new baby Kourtney! I’m sure you are on cloud 9 right now! Thank you too for your very kind words, I feel so lucky that I have been blessed to be able to work on creative projects with children for so much of my adult life. They are such a joy! xo See you this summer!

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