First workshop with VJC students

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On Monday, I led the first workshop with the Victoria Junior College students participating in my capstone project. During the 6 week program I will meet with the students on our own once a week, and we will meet with the elders once a week.

We met at 2:30 in the Electives Hub at the College, a really fantastic room with couches, moveable walls, and a screen. The room is the same one we used for the Skype conversation with NWS students last week. The room is located directly above the Theatre classrooms.

Four girls arrived right at 2:30. We casually chatted a bit; one of the students said she had been looking forward to the workshop all day (nice!). Jaclyn was there, too, and brought a tripod and video camera with her. She has volunteered to video tape all of our sessions. How aweesome is that?!

At about 2:40, I asked the girls if they knew where the rest of the participants were. One of them, they said, had a tennis meet. She couldn’t make it. And the others? Oh. They said. I don’t think they can do it.

Ack.

Two of these students have tutoring, two others have a class, and another has another obligation at the same time.

Sigh.

Because of the students’ schedules and the Touch Community schedule, at this point, there’s nothing more we can do. We will have a student participant group of five. And an elder group of ten.

It is clear that there are many students interested in the project (about 20 of them showed up at 7 am on a day they didn’t have school to Skype with students in Seattle), but the schedule is the obstacle here. I wonder if working with younger (secondary?) school students might prove easier schedule-wise…

Because I will have a smaller number of students to work with on this project, I will have to adapt my research a bit. Instead of looking at the group’s reaction to each other, I’ll be able to look at the individual students’ growth in the project. And, I’ll use their workshop facilitations / prep as a marker of this growth.

Even though I had less than half of the original participants, I lead the workshop on Monday as I had planned it, designed to elicit their initial concerns, excitements, responses to starting this project. I structured the workshop to accomplish two goals: first, to elicit their fears, excitement about the project; and second, begin to increase their pool of knowledge in reminiscence and playback theatre methodologies. To the first end, we discussed, wrote in journals, and used image theatre to inspire responses. To the second end, we played a few games / exercises I developed towards intergenerational connections.

The students are excited about: meeting the elders, facilitating workshops, sharing experiences and learning their stories. They are worried about: the language issue (most of the elders speak Mandarin, but many are more comfortable in their dialect – Hokkien in particular), working with elders who are not friendly / grumpy, feeling awkward because they don’t know each other.

The students decided that our first workshop with the elders (which will happen next Monday!!) should focus on games – what games do we play, know, favor? We will use reminiscence therapy techniques (and theatre education methods) to inspire storytelling about “games” during the workshop. And, we will create some short performance pieces in class to share.

I am really excited about the project and can’t wait to introduce the elders to the young people.

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