Student Reflections

I met with the VJC students today to reflect on the sharing last week, the project in general, and to prepare for this weekend’s Celebrate Drama conference. The students are going to help me facilitate a workshop called “Connecting to the Community.”

The five VJ students who regularly participated in the intergenerational drama workshops kept journals about their experiences. I thought I would share some of their words about the project…

From Jeannie:

I felt so loved by the elderly at the end of today’s session…they genuinely thanked me (and everybody else) for being here for the past 6 weeks. I am so glad I participated in this project.

Today marked the end of the 6 week project. Looking back, it really wasn’t that long of a project, but it really impacted my life…I feel so loved by them…It was a wonderful experience to work with the J1s and the elderly in this drama project. This is one CIP [Community Involvement Project] that really went both ways. I’m sure that the elderly will miss us as much as we will miss them.

From Erin:

I really think drama overcomes barriers, not just that of language, but that of age, culture, and whatnot.

Watching the elderly in my group successfully improvise out scenes makes me feel a strange sense of pride, though it only proves that just about anybody can do drama, because it’s so intuitive. To put yourself in a character’s shoes… I guess you could call that empathy, and anyone human has empathy, so anyone human can hence do drama.

They really enjoy drama, and it feels so good to revel in that satisfaction and sense of achievement one gets by effecting someone through doing something one loves. I absolutely love drama, so it makes me so happy to see someone so different from myself to love drama too.

From Cerys:

“Loved their passion and I found it was our vibe and heart that created that change in them.

It has been an enriching six weeks. I felt that in the journey, we truly added value to the lives of each other…I found value in myself through the constant input of encouragement in the workshops towards them. As they found confidence and ease on the stage, I felt a very quiet sense of joy and gratification too. I saw the beauty of life and humanity in a different light.

From Melody:

the most important thing that happened during this activity isn’t just the fact that it helped the elderly open up, but also the relationships that were built. Drama, I found, really connects people in the most interesting ways.

I really loved this activity because I suddenly realised my acting can impact my society, that I can put my passion together with social work. It is the most amazing feeling when you find that what you love doing can be used to do good in this world.

From Yun Wei

The elderly’s performances were the ones that struck me. Performing in front of Almost 90 people, they displayed no signs of anxiety and fear. This was striking tonme, as I know that this was their first time acting in front of an audience.

no matter what background these seniors came from (some only had primary school education), drama would still be able to inspire them. It is something without the boundaries of background, personality and in our case, age.

Intergenerational Drama Sharing

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At 7 am on Thursday morning the VJC students participating in the intergenerational drama program Skyped with Applied Theatre students at The Northwest School in Seattle who had engaged in a similar project.

The VJ students did a great job sharing their reflections about the project with the students in Seattle; it was really powerful to see and hear the students connecting with each other because of a shared experience working towards connecting their communities. It is my hope that I will be able to create more of these international student mentoring opportunities in the future.

Thursday evening we welcomed 90 seniors from the Touch Senior Activities Centre to Victoria Junior College. When they arrived, the seniors were given dinner in the canteen (accompanied by a very out of tune student music ensemble rehearsing for a future performance).

After dinner, we brought the elders to the Hall where we had set up ten tables. At each table were several reminiscence cards (loaned to us by Touch), and a group of chairs. We lead the seniors through a sample intergenerational drama workshop, inviting the seniors to share personal experiences which the cards inspired.

Using playback theatre techniques, the students improvised and played back some of the stories they heard for the audience.

After the stories had been shared, the workshop participants shared some scenes they had developed in our workshops. The elders were so fantastic! They dressed up, brought some props, and did a good job sharing their work to an audience. I was proud of them!

After the scenes we shared a video I made (badly – hey – it was my first one!) of some of the photos and videos we had shot during the workshops.

And then the workshop participants were invited on the stage to share a bit about their experience.

The event was conducted in Mandarin (the students translated for me and facilitated a lot of the event), so I wasn’t able to catch everything that was shared, but it was overwhelmingly positive and full of kind words. My friend Sharon came to the event and took a video of the reflections. She has volunteered to translate it for me.

Overall, I the sharing went well. It was clear that the project made a huge impact on both the seniors and the students alike, and I was glad they could share their experience with a larger group of people.

Because of the language challenge, I wasn’t able to facilitate the entire event, and there were times I wished I could have done something more to move things along or help the students remember what we had practiced. But, they were amazing, and I was impressed with how far they have come in just the last few months.

About 5 of my friends / colleagues here from outside of VJC came to the sharing. I wished more people (other teachers, drama educators, etc.) could have seen it.

This weekend I will give 4 presentations between the Ministry of Education’s Teacher Conference and the Singapore Drama Educators Association’s Celebrate Drama conference. Each presentation will include at least some discussion of this project. The students will help me present at one of the workshops.

After that’s all over, I’m going on holiday!

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MOE Family Day

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Last weekend I went to the Jurong Bird Park to attend the Ministry of Education Family Day. The best part of the day was spending time with my friend Anne and her family, but I also really enjoyed the bird shows. I cannot imagine training a bird to do a particular trick; for some reason, I guess it had never crossed my mind that it was possible.

There were seemingly millions of people at the Bird Park that day. I recognized many people from AST, and there were tons of kids running around.

For lunch, the MOE gave us a boxed lunch from KFC. I was really surprised. I don’t think I had eaten KFC in about 15 years, and I don’t need to eat it for another 15. Here are some photos from this adventure.

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