Friday, February 09, 2007

Day 150: Our World Map Project in Musho

As one of our required Peace Corps projects during our first three months, Benj and I worked with Musho's high school kids to paint a map of the world on an outside wall of their public school. We worked with around 40 students, 4 days a week, for almost two months, to clean and prepare the wall, decide how big to make the ocean's rectangle and start the actual map creation.

After prepping the surface of the wall and throwing a quick layer of white paint on the orange-y wall, the next step was to pain the rectangle ocean blue. The girls in this photo were truly dedicated to our project and helped us to ready the map for our artistic venture. First we had to draw 1568 6.5 square inch squares onto our blue wall. To do this, we used straight edges, pencils, erasers, yarn and a lot of patience...

One of our major goals during the map project was to make sure that the students did all the work! This project is a global Peace Corps initiative aimed at opening people's eyes to the size of the world. When we were first discussing this project in Musho we were asked a number of interesting questions, including; "Is the United States near Czechoslovakia?" Even after we finished drawing and painting the countries of our great big world, only few people could immediately point out the location of their own nation, Peru.

Once we had completed the squaring process, we used a series of 14 sheets to divide up the drawing of the world's land masses. The idea was to transfer the smaller sheets' map sections onto our enormous blue wall. To prepare the students for this task we walked them through a number of practice exercises, teaching mapping skills, math skills, and urging confidence in both drawing and following directions.

As you can see, only about 4 students at a time could work on the map. So, meanwhile, the rest of the students participated in English and/or classes in an upstairs classroom. One of our initial ideas was to assign each student to a country and to teach then internet searching skills to learn more information about their country. This particular idea was essentially impossible given the availability of only 4 computers, the fact that the Internet didn't always work, the fact that many of the students had never even touched a computer (meaning we had to start at the very beginning... turn on/turn off...), and the fact that the very notion of computers was almost more than their frantic energy could deal with.

And then... we painted! This was especially exciting and frustrating at the same time. Painting 'within the lines' is not every student's priority. But it was fun to be talking about country names and locations, gaining a better idea about this beautiful world in which we live. Until the finishing touches, Benj and I didn't do any of the work! Yeah Musho!