Sunday, June 3, 2012

That's Why it's Called a "Cross" Stitch

One of our volunteers, Patti Koenig, went home early for medical
reasons. Right after she went home, she sent me box full of art
supplies and cross stitching kits for the school. I have to admit,
when I got the box, I thought, "What the heck am I going to do with
this?" Nearly a dozen cross stitching kits from cross-stitch christmas
cards to cross-stitch miniature rugs to cross stitch pillows.
Nonetheless, I brought the box of goodies to the school and showed
them to our practicals teacher who got excited. "You can come and
teach the kids!" she said after I mistakenly told her I used to do
these kits myself when I was little.

Months went by and the bag of goodies lay untouched locked in the
office file cabinet. I just as much assumed that the bag was
re-appropriated for other purposes. Last week, as I informed my
friends and coworkers that I would be leaving soon, Mma Wabobi said,
"When are you going to come in and do the cross stitching? Let's do it
next week... Thursday."

So after a bit of hesitation and months of procrastinating, I showed
up at the school unprepared and 20 years rusty in my cross stitching
ability.

I'm not the world's best teacher. In fact, I'm not a teacher. (I use
that excuse a lot here when teachers ask me to cover their classes for
them). Into the library came 22 students and moseyed 8 teachers.
Little kids talking, chatting, crowding around me until I was bent
backwards over a table, big teachers talking, chatting, chewing gum,
and playing with their cell phones. We had around a dozen little cross
stitching kits of various ability. I decided to split the kids into
groups of 2 and start with the simple patterns.

I scavenged needles from every packet until I had 12 little needles,
then started the "demonstration" consulting the paper and looking
pleadingly at the teachers for help along the way. Finally, we sat the
kids down and gave them 1 piece of cloth, 2 pieces of thread, and....
needles? My needles were gone, and as I looked over the teachers,
gathered in the corner, for help I realized what had happened. As soon
as I removed the needles from the packet, the teachers scooped them up
and were practicing stitching on their own. HEY!!!

Once settled with their cross stitching patterns, one of the teachers
wisely told them to practice stitching in a line, forget the patterns.
I wandered around the class patting kids on the back, encouraging
those who had succeeded to try something new, and demonstrating the
"cross stitch" to kids who covered their faces out of embarassment at
the attention. One girl finally "got it" and I reached to pat her on
the back and she ducked out of the way, smacked her head on the table,
and then laughed at herself. She though I was going to hit her.
Corporal punishment is not uncommon here.

All in all, a lesson I had looked to with dread turned out to be quite
fun. The kids enjoyed themselves, some even started to stitch little
patterns into the cloth, look up at me expectantly, than squeal when I
told them they did a good job. As annoyed as I am with those kids who
like to visit me at home and never leave, overall, I'm probably going
to miss the little buggers. I have had opportunities here that I would
never have had at home, and I owe my thanks to the amazing teachers at
K'Joe for that.

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