So after the busiest day so far, you’d think all I’d want to be doing is getting some shut eye ready for another manic day tomorrow, yet here I am, as usual, the very last one up. I gave up trying to force myself into the early night ‘thing’ a few days into this trip. The night time has always been when my brain becomes its most active, so why change a habit of a lifetime!
This part of my day has actually become one of my favourites, sitting outside under the canopy, book in hand, just me (plus the dogs curled up nearby). Living in the Welsh countryside has always meant a lot of silence, the occasional car screeching down the lane, a sheep bleating and that’s about it! Yet, here, night time brings constant noise; crickets galore, dogs barking, the muffled giggles from inside the main house before the lights go off, chickens squawking, music from parties nearby and the gentle breeze passing through the trees…nothing but noise, and yet it has become my constant peace. Nothing is too loud, or annoying, in contrast, it’s calming and I find myself quickly transported into a wonderful, mindful state. Time to reflect on the day, on the up’s and down’s, the connections, the challenges, the excitement and happiness, put simply, time to figure out how my head and heart is doing; something I’m not great at allowing myself to do in the ‘real’ world.
Today was a truly wonderful day. Day 1 of our summer school at Sower’s Academy came and went in a blink of an eye! All the planning, the worry over whether we had created an engaging, educational and enthusiastic programme, whether the children would connect with the message we wanted to translate, whether our small team would be able hold its own, whether I could translate my own experience into a totally different and unknown environment…all vanished within the first 30 seconds of entering the school compound. Those beautiful, big, bright eyes of children desperate to learn, to be your friend, to throw themselves into anything that’s asked of them. With the amazing staff of DMC right by our side, our team communicated and connected as if we’d known and been working together for years, not weeks!
There’s something about children that make me into a better version of myself, I’ve never quite been able to pin point exactly what it is, or why it happens. Is it their infectious energy? Their caring nature? Or just that they’re the only pure and honest reminder of what life is about? Whatever it is, it just oozes into my soul when I’m around them. Gone is the quiet and reserved person I usually am, and this bright, energised, confident person appears, and I like her. Engaging with children on any level is a great responsibility and one that can’t be taken lightly, they allow you into their world, they give you their trust and their respect. If just one child goes home with that feeling of a brighter tomorrow and a heart that is whole, then I’ve succeeded. Without sounding cliché, children are a gift, they see the world so differently from everyone else, and all too often, we as adults, take them for granted. I never cease to be amazed what their minds can create; their intelligence, their imagination and their simple joy.
The children who attend Sowers Academy live such complete opposite lives from the children I work with back home. Challenges that you can’t fully comprehend without seeing with your own eyes, and yet their determination, dedication and drive is more powerful than words can even explain. A compound that would, in no uncertain circumstance, be deemed fit for purpose of any sort in the UK! No walls between classrooms, wooden desks falling to pieces, roofs caving in, no doors or windows, no resources! Children of various ages in the same class simply because they can only begin attending school as and when the family can afford it (which is often never). Teacher to child ratio is not even given a passing thought! And yet, here these children are, willingly attending school during summer vacation, giving you their absolute all, with teachers who just simply ‘make it work’. No complaining, just the simple, united desire between teachers and students to build a better future.
I left the first session stuck in a bizarre state, my heart was more complete than ever, but I was heartbroken all the same time. It felt like electric pulsing through me, my reasons for coming here solidified, my values and beliefs beginning to align for the first time. There was no desire to take some rest time, no desire to be alone, no desire to power down before our intense collaboration dance rehearsals, just the nagging feeling of ‘I can do more’.
Returning to where I started this blog tonight, reflection; my heart and my head, those two things who never seem to align! Although I’ve never felt so uncertain as to where they’re guiding me, who I am meant to be, or when it will all piece together, I am certain of one thing. Right at this point, I’m where I should be, doing something I’m incredibly passionate about (more so than I knew) and it simply feels right. I know I won’t be ready leave in a week, I still have so much more I want to do, be a part of, explore and learn, but for now, I’ll just allow myself to give my everything to those around me; they’re a bigger piece in my puzzle than can ever be explained.