Twinning: growing girl power

Our original idea with the ChangeMakers was to have young adults 18-25 years old. What we quickly discovered though was that would mean girls and boys could not work together. So instead we decided to work with 13-16 year olds.  Some of the people we talked to were still sceptical about whether that could work but we decided to give it a go anyway.

Peace ROCKS 1a

In the first session I ran, we had about twice as many boys as girls. They were bigger, more physically noticeable and more demanding of attention. The girls would have been easily overlooked. So although letting each one of the 25 of them have their say and explain what JOY means to them, and let the interpreter explain it to me took a lot of time, it was an important shift. It meant the girls did speak. And they expressed themselves capably and beautifully which gave them more confidence. By the end of our 2 hour session they were sitting a little taller and more assuredly.

The next day as I arrived I started to see people I recognised from that session. And they recognised me. Already things felt a little different to the day before. I had asked the staff to gather 2 smaller groups, still with a 50/50 gender balance of young people, to get started on the baseline research. I explained the idea to them, they practiced on each other and then we set out to interview residents and gather data.

At first my young researchers were very hesitant. It is not easy to knock on doors in any context and this was no exception. The boys were more prepared to just get on with it but I could see how the girls really wanted to run away, how they were wishing they hadn’t signed up for this. I also know from my own experience that this awkwardness is part of the process that has to be gone through to get to the other side. I couldn’t speak directly to them because of the language barrier but could be there for them in the background and loved seeing them grow in stature and confidence as they progressed. By the time they came back the next day to do more they all looked a foot taller and three years older. They were proud of their new skill and I was proud of them.

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Interesting to how despite all the terrible reasons why they are there, these girls and other women in the camp may have experiences and develop skills and confidence there that they would never have been able to do in the villages. I’m no expert on the local culture, but that was the sense I got from the experience. Maybe in the long run some good also comes out of the situation in terms of the isolation of the women in their homes.

(for security reasons and for their safety, we can’t post pictures of them here, hence more generic shots)

You can contribute here and help train a researcher or get involved.

Bold Vision twinning project update: Peace ROCKS

Peace ROCKS 1We have had two streams of working with young people in the refugee camp. Patricio has been running workshops with kids to transform a very common object in this bleak environment (rocks) into precious stones, things of beauty. An early breakthrough came with the thought of combining two undesirable aspects – fences and rocks – into a new way to view them.

Then, after a dash to the paint shop in the nearest town, the workshop got going. Originally intended to be for children, the staff couldn’t resist getting involved to. From the security guards to the boss man, everybody was keen to have a go and create their own precious stone.

Peace ROCKS 1b

Peace ROCKS 4By the end of the day the fence was transformed into a glittering, vertical Aladdin’s cave. When we left for the night people were approaching the fence with a look of wonder. Beauty is hard to come by in this environment and the combination of colour and sparkle made each stone an individual work of art.

No great surprise then that by morning all of the stones had disappeared, been untied and taken away to be part of individual refugees’ temporary homes.

At first it was a shock, but we quickly came to realise that this degree of engagement, of hunger for beautiful objects was a strong endorsement of the idea. More paint was procured and more workshops organised.

The bigger plan is that next Tuesday – when it is Eid, normally a time of great festivities in Muslim communities but with little to look forward to for residents here – Patricio will run a giant rock dipping event. Our crazy ambitious target is that every child (over 4000 of them) gets the chance to make a rock. They will then be displayed on the tall, barbed wire topped fence around the school.

Contribute here and be part of peace rocks
Peace ROCKS 3 Peace ROCKS 10

 

Smashfest Asteroid Alert!

An asteroid is heading for Lewisham… what will you do?!

SMASHfestUK, is a brand new science and arts festival for young people, piloting in Deptford, South East London during the February half term holidays (14th February – 22nd February 2015)

 

Part sci­fi, part horror and part post-apocalyptic-nightmare, the festival is themed around a gripping story in which an asteroid is on a collision course with Planet Earth and a zombie invasion ensues. You can follow the story online HERE or by navigating via the links at the bottom of each page. Join in by sending us your own Asteroid Survival Kit list, or sending photos with the #smashfestuk hashtag to @SMASHfestUK on Twitter or Instagram.

Real life visitors will have the chance to plan for Armageddon, whether it’s preparing to go underground at our Survival Supermarket Sweep, singing for your lives at Armageddon Open Mic, simply enjoying your last night on Earth with the End of the World Cabaret, creating a #FRIDGIE for our time capsule; The Peoples’ Ark or taking a trip to the Intergalactic Travel Bureau. For details of all these events, and more, navigate using the EVENTS tab at the bottom of the page or click HERE.

A terrific year at New X Learning!

I recently attended the New Cross Learning AGM and have to say those people go from strength to strength. The diversity, inclusion and sheer stamina of the team is remarkable.

Over the Christmas holidays they will be taking a well earned break, but work won’t stop at the library. Thanks to a maintenance grant from Lewisham Council the ceiling will be replaced, doors repalightbox 2 2014ired and the whole place will get a fresh new look by the time the decorators are done. All the perfect compliment to the second Lightbox Art that was completed by Jess and co this week. The picture gives you some idea but pop in to see it for yourself. And if you’re not already a registered user signing up is a great way to support them too.

NXL Highlights 2013/14

Oct 13        Black History Month Black Panther magazines draw 2 ex-Panthers from the States for an ad-hock discussion and meeting

Nov 13       Big Book Sale plus The Auction proves to be a quick way to make money, attract more users with an increase in issue numbers

Dec 13        2nd AGM and Xmas Fayre. Kathy and Gill remain Co-Chairs as agreed at the AGM.

Jan 14        Workshops commence for the Chinese New Year, the year of the Horse. More Chinese participate this year.

Feb 14        LGBT month is celebrated with a showing of Broke Back Mountain, the first of our Pop-Up Cinema shows

Mar 14      Basic Skills IT Training course starts that is aimed the Silver Surfers. A most moving evening hosting 13 Palestinian women who told us about life in their country and what faces them every day. John Kirk’s performance of Private Peaceful brought tears to our eyes.

Apr 14        Ewan McColl remembered from a 50 year old recording with Travelling People brought to us by Mark Brown of Goldsmiths’. Another successful partnership with New Cross Free Film Festival brings famous director, Ken Loach to NXL.

May 14      Joined with Dig to help with Tomato Fest seeding Managed to sell some new books. 25 kids sat still in a cartoon graphics workshop.

June 14      Patchwork workshops and Gypsy recognition as the Roma Festival is held here at NXL.

July 14        The Lease is signed and big thanks go out to the Bold Vision Backers, especially Catherine and John who never gave up on us.

Aug 14       Mystery walks and picnics were even more popular this year. A brilliant trip down river to see the Poppies at the Tower brought a diverse group of people together.

Sept 14      Party in the Park was a promotional success with over 5000 people grooving to Punk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Reggae Blues and Folk music all day long. NXL hosted all the meetings, allowed the bank account to be used and did the printing i.e. put New Cross on the map.