This year’s summer writing workshop came to a glorious end with the kids having a blast of a party. There were tears and laughs and musical chairs. Then there was the piñata where children blindfolded tried their best to hit out a paper made figurine. This year it was a train in order to beat out a handful of chocolates and candies. It was fun, it was great, and it was hilarious! This is all part of the closing ceremony for the one-week workshop where all participants are made to learn from play. There was more than enough to eat and drink and parents, aunties, siblings and friends were invited.
Before now, the participants spent all of five days doing the most interesting things which are hardly put on the table in regular schools these days. So we got Aunty Christy Adejo to come and have a chat with us on the benefits of travel seeing she is a world traveler and top level entrepreneur. The chat which gave the benefit of her travel experience saw the kids engaging and discussing their own many travels. In the end all agreed that travel was a truly memorable and important experience for everyone. In between resource person chats there were story telling moments and the kids let us into their favorite, string along a story. This is where a story is built from the scratch with everyone contributing a sentence or two. The imagination of children never ceases to amaze at this time. On the day participants also got a chance to learn how to prepare simple snacks and salads.
After the first day, we received, Denja Abdullahi President of Association of Nigeria Authors, cultural ambassador and Poet. As our special guest author this year, he spent an hour with the children on the making of a poem. Verses were not in short supply. There were also lots of questions here. He also donated his poetry books to the children. The children often ask if books are written by ghosts. A real author bearing his gifts and talking about his craft is always an icing on the cake. Mask making took centre stage after Denja Abdullahi was done and Creative Artist Jamil Yesufu spent three hours before lunch teaching the children how to make face masks. Moments of art and creativity almost always never ends but we all had to go to lunch and there were many reluctant participants who wanted mask making to go on all day. After this it was time to go over to silver bird and watch a movie. This year with a drink and popcorn in hand as we all watched.
The newly appointed National coordinator of Servicom, Mrs Nkem Akajemeli not only visited with us, she also gave a profound talk on mentoring and ambition goal for the children. This was where children came out with their professional interests – doctors, lawyers, artists, writers and presidents. The Servicom boss reminded them of the importance of hard work and focus towards achieving any life ambition. She also explained service delivery principles to them and urged them to form Servicom clubs in their schools. After an afternoon well spent we closed the day with a debate on what children do not like which their parents do and parents who were part of the four-man panel of children and parents also told the kids what they do to irritate them. This part of the workshop is often the highlight of my week. One seven-year panelist was concerned with how parents claim to love each other and yet are always quarrelling. I don’t like it she said in a near whisper. Another panelist was concerned about been scolded for something they did not do. Parents on the panel, Mrs Angela Ajala and Uncle Victor Anoliefo explained that parents were doing their best at parenting as they had no manual but would also appreciate if children took time to show concern when things seem to be a bit tough for the parents. They urged participants to study hard, help around the house and speak up if they were unhappy.
The following day we all trooped out to visit a bookshop where each child had a book voucher which was used to purchase books of their choice. Picture books were not allowed. The children were taught how to buy books and how to manage funds while shopping for books to get the most out of their fund allocation.
Eventually it was Friday and it was time to vote the Treasured Writers TTW Ambassador for 2017. This is usually the culmination of a three-day campaign by the kids on why they should wear the crown. Each contestant would usually have a campaign manager who would go round campaigning for their candidates. At the end of the day votes are counted and announcements are made at the party. Talks are given about winning graciously and losing gallantly. This year’s TTW Ambassador was won by Ms Chiamaka Ekeanyanwu
In the end it has been a worthwhile experience as always rolling with the kids, chatting with them and learning from them in an unforgettable one week as Lead facilitator. Many of them did not want it to end. I thank the project officer for 2017, Abojonyene Akpa who was excellent at her assignment and all our facilitators who were awesome.
We reboot and work towards making the 2018 edition even better!