Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Masayang Festival of learning 2011

Sharing the world’s knowledge

“Learning means understanding who one is and what one experiences, in order to share it with others. It means having experiences which are not humiliating, experiences of which one can be proud. It means being able to take part in what others do. All children, all young people want to learn, want to know how to work, to express themselves, want to carry the hope of their people.”

These sentences, told by Father Joseph Wresinski, are not ambitions; neither can we pretend achieving all of what they underline. But they are here to guide us in our actions and therefore for the Festival of learning as well. In Manila, with different members of ATD Fourth World and other volunteers, we spent some weeks preparing, meeting, visiting, crafting and finally living the Festival of learning with the members of three communities.

Would I have to keep one image, one memory in mind of the Festival of learning this year, I would keep this one: a police officer reading with a child. Most often, for these children, the experiences with the police are not positive. They can be chased away from the streets, the shops, because somehow their presence is disturbing to the rest of the society. Certain police officers don’t do this with great pleasure neither.
So giving the opportunity to each of them to meet differently, through “experiences which are not humiliating, but of which one can be proud” is essential: On a Saturday, four police officers, wearing their uniform, sat on the mats and read with the children. Then in their workshop, they did a storytelling, explained about their role in the community, the correct use of the whistle and weapon, the meaning of their badges. And when it started to rain, most of the children in the group didn’t go home, continued drawing the police logo, while being protected by the mats the officers were holding...

Among other persons who came have been a flight attendant, a nurse, a grooming specialist, a doctor, a group of students found of poetry, theatre, dance. Other times have been filled with music, computer workshop, storytelling, games and arts and crafts. All these persons and others came with the same wish to get to know children, youth, and adults from another reality and experience something positive with them.

Because we know the success of an activity is not done through teaching, but through respecting and loving. Then only teaching arises, from and for both sides, a definition of sharing.