Thursday, October 6, 2016

We Got The Whole World In Our Hands

Before I ever applied for Peace Corps, I have been a huge fan and proponent of geography. Learning the location of important places around the world is a key factor in being a globally educated and well-rounded human. This is one of the contributing factors to why I just love to travel. Being able to experience new cultures and customs is an absolute thrill and adrenaline rush that has only been enhanced by my love of geography.

When I was accepted to the Peace Corps over two years ago, I started doing some research on various projects that other volunteers had done to help give me an idea of possible things that I could try and accomplish during my service. I was immediately drawn to the World Map Project. Created by a Peace Corps volunteer who served in the Dominican Republic from 1987-1989, this project was right up my alley. What better way to spread my love of geography than through the creation of a gigantic map mural?

When I finally got to my permament site here in Repelón, I started scouting out possible locations to make this map into a reality. Luckily for me, other artwork adorned many of the walls of the school when I arrived. This gave me hope that getting permission to do this project would be no problem at all.

Well, time continued passing and I had yet to find the right time to get this project started. Finally, just prior to the summer vacations this year, I talked to my principal at the time (he has since left) about the project and he was immediately on board. We agreed that I could use the wall behind the stage, as it would be in a prominent location and could be seen all visitors that come to the school. So I got to work.

After chiping away all of the old paint, giving the wall a fresh coat of white paint, and starting to draw the grid, I was slightly derailed when I realized that the elements were going to eventually do more damage to the map than good. Luckily for me, a new library had just been constructed at my school and with this four blank walls were just screaming for a new map. After receiving permission from the new principal to move my project into the library, I started over again.

Finally, after about a month of hard work and collaboration with some very talented 10th and 11th grade students, the map is finished! I am so excited to be able to give the school this resource that I am hoping will be utilized by the social studies teacher and maybe incorporated into other activities to expand the students' knowledge and understanding of the world around them.

Below are pictures showing the project from start to finish:

The wall before starting
The start of the grid that was used to draw the map
Grid done - now ready to draw the world!
One of my 10th grade students, Angelica, hard at work
Another 10th grade student, Anderson, lending me his drawing skills
All drawn and outlined - bring on the paint!
Mafe, a 10th grader, putting her artistic abilities to work
11th graders Alex and Arnaldo helping to put on the finishing touches
The final product!!!
I'm super proud of the end results! It was a lot of fun being able to collaborate and work with my students outside of the classroom and in a non-English context. The artistic abilities of the students here both at my school and in Colombia in general never cease to amaze me. I'm excited that I'll be able to leave this in the school as part of my Peace Corps legacy here in Repelón.