After a long night sleep in our mosquito net covered beds and having used our toilet-sink-shower combo rooms, Cali and I woke up at the crack of dawn to get some exercise in. We did our Camp Gladiator style workout to get our blood pumping and the numbness out of our legs from 2 days of cars and airplanes. As the locals started waking up and walking by us as we were doing pushups, situps, burpees, suicide runs and leg throws… We got some strange looks. People would ask “why do you do this?”. Keep in mind this is a culture that walks all day and they thought we were a bit weird keeping fit by such strange techniques. We all met for breakfast soon after and had our morning discussion of who’s doing what in our first day teaching class at the Ngeya School. As soon as Martha arrived we began our walk to Ngeya school, which was about a mile and a half away. We walked through town and came to a small opening in some bushes with barbed wire. We squeezed through and came out on to a large uneven dirt soccer pitch where kids were playing. As kids played soccer all around us as we walked through, one kids ball came over near me. I ran up to the ball and went charging in towards two kids with it, showing off my moves… Only to get immediately taken by these little soccer ninjas. I’m just going to chalk that up to them practicing every day of their.. 10 years of life… Yeah I got taken.
When we arrived in class we introduced ourselves and went through our mounds of art supplies donated to us by Dell Childrens Hospital in Austin. We only had a week to make an impact, so we quickly started on some life drawing skills doing 30 second poses and sketching general figures and shapes.
After we sketched for a while I noticed there was less looking at the subject and more of them just doing basic figures. I felt something different needed to happen to break up the monotony a little. Bet these guys have never sketched someone upside down before!
After a few hours of bonding and sketching, we broke for lunch. When we came back it was time to get started getting our hands dirty. Our very own Sarah Haslinger is the queen of Monster Heads. What? Never heard of Monster Heads? Neither had I, but Sarah has made a bit of a niche for herself here in Austin using these heads for publicity, classes and just good fun. It’s basically a paper mache base with built up features and paint. For the first day we just started making the base, since it needs two days to dry. Sarah talked about many ways to discover what you wanted to create. Something that really lets you express yourself in completely different way. Since we only had enough materials for 10 Monster Heads and we had 20 students, we teamed the kids up in twos. This meant the kids also had to agree on an idea and work together to achieve it. Many kids sketched out ideas and some just went in for it. For some reason I got it set in my head I wanted to create a giraffe. It was my expression while I was in Africa I guess, but I had to join in on the fun.
One of our most important rules was cleaning up all the trash after we were done and cleaning everything we had just used. The floor was littered with torn paper, so every piece was picked up and throw away properly. When we were done for the day Rocky picked us up in the van and brought us back to Transit where we got some dinner and checked out how the Monster Head bases were doing. We had two deflating beach balls. This was tough because that meant 4 kids wouldn’t have Monster Heads to work on. I quickly went to work with a plan.. My plan.. Patch the holes by inserting glue inside the balls, then rolling it around like honey in a sopapilla! It was painstaking, but we made it work.