Children make their presence felt

Monday the 2nd of May did not quite end the way I said it did in my previous blog. In fact the best thing about the day was yet to be. I had communicated my desire to visit a certain pre-school, to the head teacher there. She and I belong to the same list-serv or discussion group, and I have always admired Leslie Gleim’s passion, and her words through her posts have deeply influenced me over the past few years. When I heard the WoFo was going to be in Hawaii, the first thought that occurred to me is – “Oh maybe I’ll get to meet Leslie and see her school!”.

That dream came true Monday evening. Leslie very graciously invited me and a few others from the list-serv into her school. I extended her grace by taking along a few members from World Play [with her consent of course]. In retrospect this was a good plan, I not only had company but we shared a cab to go up to The Mid Pacific Institute which the pre-school was a part of.

Soon after we alighted from the cab the head of elementary school came and greeted us and walked us to the pre-school where Leslie and her team of teachers and parents were waiting. The school was everything and more I expected a Reggio Emilia inspired school would be. There was plenty of evidence of the projects children were working on. There were samples of work by the children laid out for us to see, and soon after being guided through the facility by both the staff and parents of children, who stayed back long after their school hours just for us, we sat down for our conversation.

The conversation revolved around the children, their interest, learning,

A mermaids garden created by the children which houses fish with names such as: surprise surprise - Ariel and Flounder.

and projects they had worked on. The fact that they were right in the midst of their Beach project, [children found stagnant and possibly contaminated water being released into the sea and wanted to take action to warn the community – and for this they were soon to gain an audience with the mayor!], was very exciting. Will they get to meet the mayor and what will be the outcome of the meeting was certainly on everyone’s mind. Please read more here.

http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/05/04/10728-preschoolers-demand-to-see-honolulu-mayor/

and

http://thehawaiiindependent.com/blogs/ikaikahussey/preschoolers-teach-us-about-becoming-active-citizens

That evening as we visitors from around the globe sat on child sized chairs, and listened to the voices of our hosts from the MPI, the electricity had failed; an unusual occurrence we were told. Candle lights and some dim lights provided by the generator came on. Soon there was a thunder shower, another unusual occurrence especially for that time of the year. It was almost as if the heavens wanted to do their bit, providing a powerful back drop for our dialogues and etching the memory of the evening even deeper in our consciousness.

Our hosts sheltered us with their umbrellas taking us from one end of the precinct to another and they even ended up driving us back to our hotel, because no taxis would come in a thunderstorm at that time of the evening. There was something surreal about the entire evening, even the depth of thoughtfulness and warmth our hosts provided. All of them touched our hearts deeply and I can’t ever imagine forgetting any of them ever. Yet the strongest presence I felt that evening was the voices of the children, even without them being in the room with us. I carry memories of the outdoor atelier [the beach where they work and play a lot] even without having an opportunity to see it, I carry palpabale memories of their laughter, of their questions, of their thinking and learning; such was the power of the documentation the adults shared with us.

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