The other Peace Corps volunteer who lives in my community (my ¨site-mate¨) Kristen and I decided to paint a world map mural in a rural school outside of our village. My parents graciously decided to give us the funding for the paint, brushes and other supplies. Kristen and I had both worked in that school in the past giving classes and knew the Director, teachers and students well. When we brought up the idea of a world map project, they were excited and ready to support the activity. We decided to use an empty wall on the side of one of the main class buildings. It would be seen by the school children and also by people walking by the school.
What we thought would be a relatively quick project (a few weeks at most), ended up taking us 10 months from start to finish due to rainy season, summer vacation, and the conflicting work schedules of Kristen and me. The map was further complicated by the fact that we had to take a “chicken bus” out to the community ever time we worked on it, taking up practically an entire day. However, we pushed through. We were determined to have something tangible come out of our Peace Corps service, and I think we just wanted to see if we could actually do it!
Here is our map project, step-by-step:
Step one: Wash the wall. Have a carpenter (or otherwise skilled person at measuring) mark out the 6x12 foot space on the wall. This took one day, and required us to coordinate with the carpenter and pay his bus fare and for his labor that day.
|Washing the wall|
|Don Enrique measuring|
|Painting the background|
Step four: Draw the map! We used pencils and the map guide to draw each individual square. This tedious task was made easier by many hands and eager kids.
|It´s done! Ready for paint!|
Step six: Paint the countries! The guide told us what color to paint each country, and we divided the work up among students. This required two coats of paint as well and involved a lot of paint drips on clothing and on each other. We bought primary colors and from those were able to mix other colors like purple, pink, and brown.
|Painting countries, one by one|
|Our arms got a bit tired|
|Kristen and Me|
Step nine: Celebrate the map! We didn’t have time for this step since we finished just days before I will be leaving my community, but you could tell the kids felt accomplished and proud of what we had done. Even if they had just played a small role: painting a couple countries or helping paint the ocean, they felt part of the larger overall activity.
The younger children in elementary school loved to crowd around the map as we were writing the country names yelling out “Look! There’s China! It’s so big!” “Wow, Nicaragua is so small!” “I didn’t know that’s where South Africa was…” “Wait, Africa is a continent?” I can tell that many hours will be spent sitting in front of this map contemplating the various countries on it and giving these children a greater sense of their world and their place in it.
|¨This map was made in 2010/11 with the Peace Corps volunteers Kristen O´Neil and Lilia Penny Gage with the fourth and fifth year students with funding from Steve and Amelia Gage.¨|
|Kristen and I, very satisfied!|
|Good work kids!|