The achievements of Grest

Hello and here we go

“Brace yourself. Grest is coming”

During April and May everybody in my organisation was speaking about Grest ( a summer children camp). Absolutely everyone tried to made us feel scareful and nervous about that. Every day we listened to such things:

  • Oooo, guys, in June in Grest you’ll be very tired
  • You’ll do Grest and you will see what it is really
  • Prepare yourself: in Grest you will work with 300 children and you must organise them
  • Be ready to listen to all their cryings
  • You will go to the swimming pool
  • You will be absolutely exhausted

As far as we had so many conversations about Grest and how much tiring it would be – we’d prepared to meet something really bad but we couldn’t imagine the reality.

“From the golden scorpions to the blue arrow”

Before start my acitivities in the children I was really curious about communication issues, because my Italian skill is still not so good to have normal conversations and I hoped that there would be someone English-speakers. And finally on the first day when we met our colleagues I discovered that noone could speak English. The first moment I was shocked and I started thinking about next 4 weeks without any English. But with time I realised that it was much better for me ’cause in this case I was forced to speak Italian and I was so proud of myself that I managed it! OK, with children it was more difficult, as we know “Child’s language” is different from adult’s one. But anyway finally I could feel that I didn’t have so many language issues.

My group consisted of 30 children 6-8 years old, 6 educators 15-19 y.o. and 2 volunteers – Tamara (a girl from Macedonia who arrived here for 2 months to make Grest) and me. During the first day we met all educators and we could feel a strong communication barrier between us (especially between me and them because the first thing I was caring about was English language). But whatever it was just the first day. And exactly that day with the kids we had to make a group name. Since we had blue color of our group, we’d made a decision of using the color in the name. 20 minutes later we chose our name – The blue arrow. At that moment I remembered my Russian children camp, when we had the same task with kids and in Russia my group was The golden scorpions. The colour plays a role…

The achievements of Grest

Usually every day in the children is absolutely a new day: new activities and games – the most important things for children. During all these days I could unlock some achievements.

Propose some activities for children. OK, it doesn’t seem like a super achievement at all, but for me since I don’t speak Italian well and my communication with kids is quite low – that was very important for me to involve children to the activities which I could organize. Usually it was frisbee game in the mornings when children slowly arrived to the place where we met them. Just one morning I decided to try to suggest kids to play frisbee and it was quite easy to involve them. Other time I managed to invite to play basket and other few mornings we spent there.

Say no to English language. As I mentioned on the first day of the camp I was trying to find some english-speakers and I got no results. As a result I had no other was as start speaking only italian. And I’m happy to add that it was not as painful as I expected. I’m really thankful to all leaders who were patient with my Italian

From learning to teaching. When Summer arrived to Italy I started having absolutely free evenings at home, ’cause outside it’s too hot. So I was wondering how I could organise my free time. One my best friend presented me his new hobby – learning how to draw. In the Internet it’s easy to find a lot of resources like “How to learn to draw in 30 days” or “10 lessons of the photoshop” . As a result I started learning how to draw. Maybe it was a fate maybe not, but once my leader announced that I would accompany children to the art-workshop, where they’d draw with the teachers. In as much as I didn’t speak much because of the language issues I commenced drawing. For me it was just a practicing of the lessons which I learnt the day before. While I was drawing, some kids were watching:

As an example, this picture we were drawing with one child who told me that he'd like to do such thing. We were doing it during one art-workshop
As an example, this picture we were drawing with one child who told me that he’d like to do such thing. We were doing it during one art-workshop

some of them didn’t say anything; some of them told me that my pictures were beautiful (and for me it was already more than enough) and some of them asked me to show them how to draw such things.

Kicker-playing

In one of my previous post I mentioned that in Italy one of the most popular games is kicker. I have no much passion to this activity but since the most of children here are big on playing kicker – I’ve started participating more and more. My work day started at 7:30 when we were meeting parents with their children. As far as during the mornings we had not so many children, often they asked us, educators, to play with them. And so here we go. Every morning I was practicing it and ad finem I could hear something like that “Oo, please, I wanna play with Alex” or “Alex, come here, we wait you”. Obviously, for such words I got more and more motivation to work there.

Survive 3 weeks with the hot weather. In the second week of the camp my hell had come. My biggest fear had materialized. The hot weather had arrived. Every day over a period of the camp we had +35 C. There was no rain. Even not much wind. I consider it was the most complicated period for me, because I prefer cold weather to hot one. During those days I couldn’t understand what to do and how to stay there. I had no idea how to stop sweating. I started hating the time to go to sleep, because even just lying in a bed it was extremely hot. To simplify my time every night I put a basket with cold water in my room, I wet some clothes and put round the room just to cold air as much as it was possibile. Also in the camp we had some days when we visited swimming pools and my skin…my ex-skin got burned immediately even with the cream 50 % protection. June made me missing Russia

And that was my experience, the experience which I’ll never forget.

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