When we announced plans for the YAN internship in late April, most of our students immediately asked if they could be involved. Knowing that we only had openings for 7 interns—and also knowing that some of our younger students would probably struggle with the demands of a 4-week internship spent full-time in an office—we quickly scrambled to create an alternative internship for those not selected for the real deal. Our alternative plan finally came to fruition last Tuesday, when I welcomed 6 of our Form 2 and 3 YAN students from Lycee Molyko into our house for what I called “YAN-in-a-Day.”
The idea was for students to brainstorm, plan, create, and edit a video all in one day on a topic of their choice. Fortuitously, I had discovered the night before that several 6’x3’ pieces of plywood that have been sitting around our house—originally sliding doors for our bedroom closets—function really well as chalkboards. When students arrived Tuesday morning, I had already mapped out on several boards an agenda for the day, and a set of graphic organizers that students would fill in themselves in order to plan their video. The prompt I provided was for students to come up an object or idea that would improve life in their community, and then create a video pitching their idea. That day, my students’ brainstorm included ideas like, “build dams to provide power to communities in case of power failure” (sadly, a very common occurrence here), and “sell healthcare workers a machine that will detect whether people have brushed their teeth recently” (my favorite idea). Ultimately, my students went with an idea to install community-based solar panels to mitigate the effects of regular power outages. Then, they started using another chalkboard graphic organizer I had created in order to plan out their video.
By 11:00 am, we started to shoot. Ekema and Shemilove acted out two scenes to demonstrate how not having light can lead to a thief (played by Ekema) more easily stealing a wallet from a homeowner (played by Shemilove; the wallet was provided by yours truly), while having light can prevent such a problem. Abunaw acted out a scene to demonstrate how using candles in the event of a power outage can lead to house fires (I created a set-up using a bucket of water for fire control purposes, and admonished the kids beforehand not to “try this at home”). Balemba was our photographer. And Besskennie and Elisée wrote and recorded the voiceover that we then placed over the other students’ videos and photos. We took a break for spaghetti omelets at lunchtime; contrary to most of the 13-year olds I know in the U.S., my students waited for each person to be served, and for a prayer to be said, before eating. And by 3 pm, our video had been completed. I was impressed, and the kids had a great time—so much so that I invited them back to my house two days later for another session of “YAN-in-a-Day.”
Our second session went just as well as the first—better, perhaps, because I decided to add some more games to our daily activities. Since school has let out, Clara and I have been struck by little most students have to do in Buea. Apart from carrying water and helping with chores, students are mostly left to their own devices from June to September; and with so few books, games, or organized activities available, kids pretty much wander around and play in small groups all summer long. Luckily, we have a small collection of games and young adult fiction here in the house, so we played a few of the former and read a few of the latter during our “YAN-in-a- Day” (In fact, a few girls expressed interest in taking books home, and have since brought them back, eager to take another. If there is one thing these kids need, it is a good collection of age-appropriate books!). In any case, it’s been fun running “YAN-in-a-Day,” and seeing what our kids have learned from us this year, put to practice all in 6 hours—and equally fun to get to know them outside of school, as the people that they really are.
Posted by Josh.