10-26 Melsisi GLOW/BILD

Boys learning!

After going to the Training of Trainers camp on Ambae last year, we very much wanted to run the Camp GLOW/BILD (youth leadership: Girls Leading Our World/Boys In Leadership Development) at Melsisi.  It didn’t happen then for various reasons.  We started talking to the administration about it again at the beginning this year.  As the end of the year was approaching, we started pushing harder and finally made it happen.  Melsisi had a GLOW/BILD.

They LOVED tye dye.
These are some of my top year 10 girls.

We managed to place it over Constitution Day weekend so we had all day Friday and Saturday.  Sunday was first communion and Kastom dancing so we had to close before then.  Friday morning we gathered the kids and made introductions.  We introduced them to the first of the silly games we play and they rolled their eyes.  Then we broke up into boys and girls to start talking about leadership.  We followed that with communication and more silly games before breaking to have lunch.  The kids were sometimes a bit reluctant to talk at first (as always but even moreso with kids here.)  Even before lunch they were starting to open up a little more.  After lunch we did Tye Dye!!  Yes, we’re Peace Corps volunteers.  Once we showed them what was going on and how to do it, the kids loved it.  I tye dyed my Peace Corps shirt and then told some of the kids to tye dye my pants.  The shirt turned out well but the pants turned out even better!  We reined them in from tye dye to get a public speaking session in before time for sport.  Public Speaking is a skill which needs a lot of practice here.  My principal always rubs his hands over his face when he’s talking in meetings and many others have similar habits.  They’re a very shy people generally.  The kids were starting to open up more by this time and I was fairly impressed with their performances when we had them introduce each other in front of everyone.

The boys being saucy

Sport for the first day was Capture the Flag.  They don’t play it here so we had to explain the rules.  There ended up being confusion about many things such as where the line is and that you have to get the flag back to your side but they did understand that you have to run really fast.  They’re good at that.  Unfortunately, there was an injury during play.  Hannah (a volunteer from England) fell on her face running and broke her collar bone.  She ended up staying in our soon-to-be house before we did and is well on her way to recovered by now.   Gaea took her to the mini-hospital and helped her pack up to go to vila the next day while Paul (the other Brit), Al, and I got the kids started on making a camp banner and friendship bracelets.  Hannah and Gaea are the ones who know how to make friendship bracelets but were otherwise occupied.  This turned into me showing them how.  The upside of me showing it was that the boys were more okay with doing it themselves.  All the kids love chances to be creative so they had a lot of fun.

Trust falls!

Saturday morning we were back into it with a discussion on goal setting followed by a decision making game.  The decision making game starts by telling each participant that they have just finished year 8 and need to decide what they are going to do next: go back to the village, go to a Rural Training Center, let go school and try to find a job in vila, or finish secondary.  The work required for each of these is represented by physical exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, jumping-jacks, or squats.  They then go to another station where they are presented with further choices to make for their “life” and given the exercises to perform.  Eventually they wind up in categories according to what role in society they play based on their choices.  It’s a really cool way to talk about life choices and the kids seem to get a lot out of it (other than just tired.)


After the decision making, I taught the kids a bit about budgeting and personal finance.  The basic things like how to record your incomes and expenses, how to identify wants that might be able to be eliminated, and the importance of paying yourself first to save money.  It’s a bit more academic so I hope the kids found it useful.  I know the one local teacher helping us did find it very useful.  We finished up the content with a session on trust and team building.  There’s a bit of talking about teams, why they’re important, and the role of trust.  Mainly we had the kids do trust falls.  Not those wimpy ones where you just lean back and one person standing behind you catches you still standing up.  We’re talking you stand on a platform and fall backward onto a line of people holding hands to catch you.  The boys loved it and some went multiple times.

To finish off the camp we scheduled a lot of fun time.  For afternoon sport we played Ultimate Frisbee.  I enjoy the game anyway but this was especially fun.  Once again we had to explain it to the kids and it took them a little bit to get but they really got into it.  My team took a little bit longer to get the strategy down but once they did, we dominated.  The best part was watching them get more and more willing to share the disc across genders.  My team especially was just passing it to whoever was open.  That is always my favorite part of these camps.  They are so good at breaking down the barriers and having them just interact as people.  When the game finished, we were going to let them go early for supper after a quick bananas dance.  However, they decided that wouldn’t do.  They asked to play each of the games we had showed them again.  This is another of my favorite parts of these camps.  When we first teach the games, they roll their eyes and don’t want to join in.  By the end of the camp, they’re begging for more.  After dinner we wrapped up with a slide show and video from Wan Smol Bag.  

I am so glad we managed to get a camp run before leaving Melsisi.  They are an incredibly rewarding experience and I loved watching the kids gain confidence even through this short time period.  This goes double for the kids who have been in my class for the last couple years.  I was able to make more of a connection to them during those two days than I had been through two years of teaching.

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