This week we have a lovely post written by an amazing team teaching pair – Hanaa in Gaza and Becca in USA. Over to you…
‘I consider myself extremely fortunate to be one of the very loyal members of the hands up project. I’ve initiated doing zoom sessions since I’ve started teaching three years ago. I went through many ups and downs and definitely the unstable internet connection was a deep hole that frustrated me sometimes. However, contributing to the Hands Up remote theatre competition, and considering my girls’ play The Living Song as one of the finalists, was my Everest!
Hence, this year we’re going through the most wonderful experience with the zoom live sessions with our amazing HUP volunteer and friend, Becca. We did a variety of sessions together; each session surprises us differently, enjoys us gorgeously, and connects us very warmly .
Our session today reflects drama in a wonderful way. We decided to warm up using some activities such as one-word theatre and tourist guide activity. Students, in the first activity, were spontaneously divided into groups according to their seats and assigned a word for each. They tried their best to represent what this word means to each girl in the group creating a very simple humble theatre. The latter activity was supported by the students drawings about places of their sheer imagination. They started showing their drawings and turned to be very good tourist guides trying to convince Becca to visit their worlds. We were positively shocked by some creative places and totally willing to visit them if we could, such as the Nutella city or dreams land. The girls loved to end this drama session with acting an amusing traditional Palestinian story, ‘The farmer who followed his dream’ which was told by Becca previously.
Each session feels like it’s the first time we do it! The girls are extremely excited and can’t wait to communicate with their friend, and this is what is so special about these sessions!’
‘I remember vividly reading a story when I was about ten or eleven years old, in which a child on his birthday was allowed to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and supper. I thought that was the most fantastic thing I had ever heard. I found myself charmed merely by the idea of imagining what bliss such an indulgence would give me. Although I knew my mother would never allow it, not even on my birthday, I could nevertheless imagine it, secretly, and that seemed nearly as good as the real thing.
That childhood joy comes instantly back to me when I see the girls in the English club come up with ideas for their dream cities, where they want to lead me. It doesn’t take much enticement from them in their role as my tourist guide, because they promise me cities of donuts, ice cream and Nutella; of flowers, giant yellow balloons, and horses with wings and rainbow-colored tails. I would happily follow them wherever their imaginations lead me. It’s even better knowing that they want to travel with me to these magical places they have drawn so colorfully on paper and described so enthusiastically with their lyrical voices. I can’t resist stepping into those enchanting cities with them.
I’m equally entranced by the creativity that they show when given only one word and a very few minutes to develop a short performance by their group to express the word. I am amazed at how much they can make out of that single word, both as individuals and as a group. They show such enthusiasm for the assignment, and then are all so eager to share what they have done with me and with their classmates. I find myself often surprised by the cleverness sophistication of their thinking, and can’t believe they are so young. But then I remember how amazing the human mind is, and realize that because they are given the freedom to let their imaginations soar, nothing can limit them – not their age or their gender or the circumstances of their lives. Witnessing them participate with so much style and expressiveness, my entire outlook on life is made more positive and hopeful. These girls give me faith in the triumph of the human spirit.
Then there is the play about the poor farmer and his dream. Although I had told the story to another class in an earlier session, I had not given nearly as much detail as the girls did in their version. It was also amazing to see them really put themselves into their roles. From the beginning moments when the narrator draws us in with her words of, “Once upon a time…”, we are hooked. The “bearded old man” was a highlight, as he (she!) teased the old farmer saying that dreams mean nothing, then in the next moment describing his own dream that is the key to the whole tale. For me the dream of the old man is actually a reminder that our real treasure is actually back in our own homes and in our own hearts, not in a far-off place on a map marked with an X. I hope that the girls learn that their treasures are also to be found deep within their own blossoming and beautiful young souls.
I am thankful over and over that they have such a good teacher in Hanaa, who clearly is doing a fantastic job giving the girls plenty of time, space, and resources to empower their thinking, their creativity, and most importantly, their self image. It is an honor to work with such a fine person. I have learned a great deal from her about using art and drama for giving students a platform to explore this world and their very important place in it’