Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I am ...

Last night we embarked on Day Two of our True Body Project work together in Cambodia. I adjusted the curriculum a bit to take into account the girl's development level and literacy issues so we are going to do a lot more word lists (vs. journal writing) and a lot more art work and playful movement.

So our curriculum included the following activities:

1. We introduced ourselves and said how we were feeling then created a gesture to match that feeling. "Happy" "tired" "headache" were the top feelings/gestures of the night.
2. We warmed up the energy in our bodies and connected to a partner's energy (see girls with their hands facing each other, photo above.) Then we connected to our group energy by standing in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. And then we did some partner weight sharing exercises.
3. After that, we wrote the words "I am" in the middle of a circle and filled the circle in with as many things we could think of. Most girls wrote "good girl" "daughter" and "student." It helped the girls to hear each other's lists because they could remember things they could add to their own list.
4. Then we wrote two more lists. We wrote 5 things we like and 5 things we don't like. Then we played charades and acted out for the group one of the things we liked and one thing we didn't. The girls were most interested in watching the Transitions Global staff act out their words. Visiting social worker Courtney's miming of a mosquito flying onto her arm and her quick "splat" of the mosquito onto her arm was the hit charade of the night. As we were leaving an hour or so later, the girls were still mimicking the hilariousness of the gesture.
5. Then we returned to our body map and traced our hands so we could put the "I am" lists into the outline of our hands. The girls then continued to work on the mural, adding artwork, words and images to the body maps.
6. Finally, we did our yoga song. Here are the words.

I am brave, I am bold.
To my own spirit, I can hold.
I am safe, I am strong.
To my own spirit, I belong.

I have to confess that last night I panicked a bit, wondering how to best be of service to these girls in the short amount of time we have together and given their developmental challenges. I am learning so much from listening to Summer Twyman (Clinical Director) and Courtney talk about their work here and how it relates to the work they have done with trauma and girls in other parts of the world. It is not that I didn't anticipate the issues. It just takes time to really understand context.

Last night I dreamed of new curriculum for the girls, literally, as I am so immersed in trying to get this right I am pretty much enveloped in True Body ideas, day and night. But when I woke up, I remembered that the True Body Project work starts with the body and ends with the mind. We first and foremost promote connectedness as the gateway to well being.

One of the girls last night was particularly dispirited and lethargic. Imagine a deflated balloon of a girl. She struggled to be with us and she struggled to participate. So I asked her to trace my hand on the body map and she did. She then allowed me to trace her hand. In that moment, in that space, we connected. I know it was important to me and I can only hope that in the smallest possible way, it was helpful to her.

So I will still work to create the best possible activities for these girls but will also remember that as long as we are spending time connecting our bodies to our thoughts and emotions, connecting our spirits to each other, we are making progress.

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