This week started out with a fabulous class at JIS with my Cilincing students, JIS and One More Chance students. Class started out with mostly Cilincing kids and a few JIS kids. The OMC kids weren’t able to make it until the last 30 minutes of class. It was really nice to see them all again and exciting that they hadn’t forgotten the circus skills they’d learned last year. The Cilincing kids were very shy at first, and since the OMC kids were only there for about 30 minutes, they didn’t get much of a chance to warm up to each other, but I know that in the weeks ahead, these kids will all become good friends. Sunday classes at JIS are also a really great opportunity to expose the kids to more circus activities that we don’t have room or equipment for them to use in their village.
I invited a JIS high school student to come help teach gymnastics on Sundays. She is a coach at a local studio and I thought it would be nice to expose the students to other teachers than myself. I was a bit skeptical at first, because she is still a HS student, but she is proving to be wonderful with the kids and they are taking quite a liking to her!
Tuesday I taught another class at JIS with JIS HS students. There progress is impressive. There were a handful of new students that showed up today and that was exciting.
Wednesday I went back to Cilincing for our weekly class. Seeing the kids twice a week is really making a big difference in so many ways. Most obviously, their circus skills are becoming stronger and stronger each week. One great thing about working with these kids is that they have virtually no fear. When we work acrobatics, they just climb up and go for it! If they fall down, they laugh about it and get back up to try again.
We were in the old classroom today because the Ibu of the larger space wasn’t home when we arrived. It’s difficult to have class in the small space because there are now 17 regular kids that come every class, plus brothers and sisters and other kids from around the village who come to watch and give the spinning plate a whirl when the regular kids aren’t using them.
A nice thing happened today as I was walking back to find the kids. A little girl, who isn’t a regular student, saw me walking back and ran out of her house to great me. She was shouting, “Ada ‘Kak Dan! Bisa main lagi!” (Dan is here! Now we can play!) It’s really nice to know that even she is too young to be a regular student, she still looks forward to Wednesday mornings every week.
Thursday afternoon I performed and gave a workshop for an after school drama program at a low income public HS. I was introduced to this school by Mas Ochid, a JIS fine arts aide, who runs the after school program for free. When I arrived at the school, it was quite a spectacle (as it usually is) to have a bule (expat) carrying all these funny looking objects inside from the car. I performed the show to a very receptive crowd of students, teachers and the principal of the school. After the show we spent about an hour workshopping some basic juggling skills and the kids seemed to really enjoy the lesson.
Friday I returned to Yayasan Emmanuel’s tutoring center in Cilandak (south Jakarta). I performed a show here last year and gave a workshop to the students. It wasn’t clear to me whether or not the kids were the same as last year, but they were so excited to be a part of the day’s activities. It’s a really wonderful feeling when you perform a show for a group of kids, no matter how large or small, who couldn’t be happier that you were performing for them. They were enthusiastic and attentive, playful and curious and it made for an amazing time for all parties involved. There were around 50 kids, so after the show we broke up into three groups and learned how to spin plates, juggling scarves and toss flower sticks. The sounds of their laughter and glee were enough to make me never want to stop doing this work.
When I told them that I had arranged with Emmanuel, to visit their tutoring center twice a month until June, they were even more excited. I ask them if they wanted me to come back and teach them more circus and they all responded, “Mau!”(We want!) When I pretended to misunderstand them and said, “Oh… You didn’t have fun. No problem, I don’t have to come back.” They all responded in their loudest voices. “Enggah!!! Kita mau kamu kembali lagi!” (No! We want you to come back!) The enthusiasm from the kids is what it’s all about for me. Watching them fall in love with an art form that I myself fell in love with over five years ago is a really beautiful thing. And, I feel lucky each day when I wake up and know that this is the gift I get to give them.
I’ve got another busy week ahead. Planning for Sumatra is coming together great as well. I will be there for two weeks starting on March 5th, performing in Lhokseumawe, Pidie, Bireuen, Banda Tengah and Banda Aceh. When I return to Java, I’ll perform in Bandung for 3 days and then shortly after in Lebak-Banten for 2 days. Much more to come!