Kids are kids, wherever in the world they are, and I love interacting with them and watching them learn. Today’s particular group consists of children in the colourful Ecuadorian town of Baños, nestled between the mountains and surrounded by spectacular scenery.
The setting is an interactive arts library run by Arte del Mundo Foundation, where my daughter Mazz co-ordinates the volunteer program and works with the children of the local community.
There are often children sitting on the step outside, when the ‘Bib’ opens of an afternoon. They come to play and create, to read and be read to. Reading time has kids huddling in colourful bean bags with their friends or with volunteers from around the globe. The little boy sitting next to me on the floor leans a book against my knee and shows me the pictures. He carefully reads the words in Spanish for me to repeat and he repeats the English words I give him.
Later, the children move into the activity area where they are quickly involved in games and puzzles. Mazz has brought a pile of plastic straws and some coloured paper to the table and a group of kids gather round to see what she is making. She plans to make Christmas hats, although she’s not quite sure how, but within a few minutes the kids are copying and experimenting and creating variations. Gradually more kids gather around the table and are enthusiastically exploring ways of covering the straw structures with paper. As an inquiry teacher, I’m in my element, watching the process unfold.
The Arte del Mundo website says…
To be human is to be imaginative and creative. The members of Fundacion Arte del Mundo recognize the importance of art and literature in the lives of people, especially the lives of children. Art and art-related activities are often the only part of a person’s life where there are no right or wrong answers, where all are equal to create and imagine, where you are encouraged to experiment. Our emphasis is on sharing the love of books and the arts with the children and adults of Baños through utilizing the creativity and talents of volunteers from all over the world.
Seeing the work that happens here, the shining eyes of the kids and the pride they take in their reading, the creativity that pervades this special space, the wonderful warmth of the volunteers and the welcoming local community, I finally understand why Mazz has fallen in love with this place.