Friday, 29 August 2014

Our own "handmade" video of Izmir***


Dear potential readers,

    Our previous week in Atolye has been a very creative one. It was the week that our efforts were finally paid off. The children, Ioanna and I worked mostly on music and editing lessons and since Ioanna covered the part of transmitting our music lessons experience, I will go on analyzing a little bit more of our editing effort.
       Sometimes, it is hard to work with children, not because it is difficult to communicate and make them learn what you have to share, but because it is difficult to include them all during the educational procedure, so that no one will feel that he or she is left behind. So, there is this thin line that we really need to give attention to, because children can easily get disappointed in case you give privileged attention to one child instead of another. Also, there is this case that they could feel intimated by the rest of the children they work with. For this reason, every time there is an issue like this that come up to my attention, I try to let children know that in every case, during our lessons, everyone is equal with one another. In the end, our goal is not to prove that someone is clever than the others, but our goal is to leave this room and know that every each of us has learned and has enjoyed the procedure. In the end of day, and after three months with the kids, I clearly know that there is no kid who is more stupid than the other, but it is just that children tend to be good in different things or even they tend to be good only in those things that they are interested in. Consequently, it is unfair and illogical to be harsh on one another, in case someone doesn’t try too much or even if she or he doesn’t really manage to catch things as fast as the others. Because, as I mentioned above, we don’t care if one gets things faster than another, but to feel that everyone is learning and that our Atolye group is moving towards knowledge collectively. I hope that by the end of this project children will be able to understand this belief of mine and learn to creatively judge and avoid competitiveness among their groups and friendships.
       But let me return to our editing project. Last week, on Thursday and Friday the kids really walked under the sun for hours, trying to shoot videos of Izmir letting us know how Izmir really looks like in a glance. They started from Karsiyaka, they took the vapor to alsancak, konak, basmane and came again in Atolye on Monday to start editing all those videos that they had shoot. After two days of editing, they came up with this lovely video of Izmir!!!


     I have to admit that I am really proud of these kids, because they try to learn as much as they can and they are always willing to hear when I have something to tell. While other kids stay at their house the whole summer, in order not to get sweaty and tired from getting the buses and the izbahns and walk to Atolye, these children are coming here every morning and try and try and try to become something more that this world expects from them to be. 


                                                           Dear potential readers,

    last week our music teacher and simultaneously my friend, Ioanna,  took the flight back to Selanik. However, she didn’t want to leave Izmir before she manages to write something about this music experience with the kids. And for this reason, I am here to post her text and make my small comment on it. I have to admit that I would never expected Ioanna would be affected that much from this small contact with the children of Atolye, but I was wrong!

Hello everyone!

I'm Ioanna and Ι have started teaching the children how to play the guitar about three weeks now. When Efklia told me that it would be nice if I could spend some time teaching the children how to play the guitar during my stay here in Izmir, I was more than delighted, as I am always when it comes to that. I was taught to play the guitar by a friend as well, so transcending this capacity to someone else, feels like offering this unique opportunity back to where it belongs; to everyone.

I was raised with the belief that knowing how to play music is an opportunity that you can always use always in your life to express your self, whether it is to celebrate a happy event, to share your feelings with your friends a sunny day or to dive into a sweet melancholy an autumn afternoon, or to express your sorrow, by making it feel a little more light. I always remember my father, who also learned to play the guitar by a zealus teacher in highschool (which is pretty rare in Greek schools, because Greek teachers are always bored and do nothing), saying: “Be well mr George, that teached us how to play the guitar! Otherwise I would have no chance to learn how to play music...”

 And so, that's what my parents did; they sent me to learn music by the time I became five years old. I learned to play the piano, flute, drums and music theory, but it was not until my 20s when a friend taught me how to play the guitar. And that's indeed what music has been for me so far; something that is always there for me, to accompany my life journey.

And so the guitar lessons started. I was thinking how I should initiate the lesson, and I thought of those two -silly- questions and that's what the children answered to me:

-Have you ever taken any music lessons?

The children answered “no” somewhat sad.

-But do you like music?


And the lesson began. I first thought I should teach them some basic things, like the basic chords that are usually being used for the guitar, like Do major or La minor and many others. They took a pen and started writing down how to play those chords, while I was showing them how to play them on the guitar and Efklia was representing on the board where do you put your fingers on the frets for each chord. An other thing that I wanted them to learn is how those chords are represented in the guitar sheets, so that they will always be able to play any song that they like, just by googling it on the Internet.

They seemed pretty interested and excited, at least that's what they told me at the end of the first lesson! At the second lesson I thought Ι should find an easy song for them to play and so I chose “Love me do” from the Beatles! The song has only two chords to play (Do and Sol), so it was an easy and cheerful one. Each of the children started playing the chords and I was singing along. Ok, it was only their first times and playing a chord is not an easy thing to do, yet they managed to play it, after a lot of repeats and practice! When we finished the lesson, they put the song again on Youtube and I heard them singing along.

My further wish is for us to manage to play a song all together, using the two guitars that we have and adding other easy instruments too, like a flute or some handmade maracas. And my even greater wish, which I think is a feasible one, is to offer to them the same opportunity that I had; this road for escape and expression that's always there, called music. "

Under Ioanna's supervision, I will try to continue our music lessons, but just for now, have a look on the outcome of the childrens' effort!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Who wants to learn editing?*

Dear potential readers,

In my last post I intentionally avoided talking about this one special arrival in Izmir, so that I will let you know more about my days in this city through small amounts of information every time. In the beginning of July, a friend of mine from Greece came to visit me in Izmir. And her stay was intended to be long since she would stay until the end of August. Her name is Ioanna and I am introducing her, not only because she is a friend of mine, but also because she is going to be the music teacher for the kids (and mine also) during this month. ( I don’t tend to reveal secrets, but her post talking about her experience with the kids will be in this blog soon)!

                                  Ioanna in Balcova Agora

Along with Ioanna came a very important tool for our work in Atolye, her Mac Laptop. Unfortunately, we will be able to use it only for this month, until Ioanna leaves and takes it with her. This is not a Mac commercial, but only a way to refer to our lessons with the kids trying to teach them few things on Editing, through Adobe Premiere Editing Program. And since Premiere is a bit of a heavy program, we definitely needed a laptop that meets editing criterias.
I came in touch with Adobe Premiere at my 4th year of my university studies in Journalism. From the first time, I got amazed from all the opportunities that such a program gave for our occupation (and not only) and soon I started finding myself being willing to get to know more of how this program works. In the following year, I had a few lessons on this program and here I am in Izmir sharing this knowledge with the children of Atolye. The kid inside of me, would really love to have learned something so beautiful as montage from such an early age and for this reason, sometimes I am quite jealous of Atolye Kids that are able to come in touch with Photography and Editing from such a young age. Although, I am not really an expert on Premiere, I really want to share with the kids even this small knowledge of mine, which I am sure that can really give life to the dreams of children to shoot some short documentaries and movies of their own.
 And the lesson started!!!

They were really interested in how this program works and after I showed them few things they immediately thought to finish a project of the last volunteer, Federica. This Italian girl and the kids thought of a small scenario and they gave life to it only through few cartons and many many photos. And here is how, these voluntary steps, from one volunteer to another, get connected with each other, creating something that is more integrated, both for the volunteers and the kids. We took the photos, put them into order, we defined the duration of each photo, we found a song that its melody represents better the aesthetic outcome that we wanted, we assimilated the intensity of the sound in the beginning and the end of the video and TSAK!!!
             our first editing effort using Federica's stop motion images

The more I spend time with the kids, the more I realize that through their imagination my imagination sparks too and I have learned through them that we can actually have fun through simple things, because what comes the most is not only what tools and ideas we have, but also how we feel and the energy we want to share.
Our editing efforts are being continued! Soon you will be able to watch our self made video of Izmir, after two days of video shooting under the exhausting sun. And the point is that: I didn’t help at all! J

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Making our own T-shirts*

Dear potential readers,

         I know you have missed me but these last few weeks have been full of activities, holidays, national celebrations and one special arrival. And occasionally our mood tends to have small fluctuations, because ups and downs are also part of our lives. Working voluntarily with children can be a very demanding procedure, since children really learn so fast that leaves me with a feeling of inadequacy. How many ideas can I come up with to keep them excited? How much knowledge  can I transcend to them? Is it enough? What if I run out of ideas? These ideas pass through my mind quite many times, making me experience this personal stress which motivates me and scares me at the same time. And every morning, before the children come to Atolye, I wonder whether everything is going to roll well and every time they leave, I feel that I shouldn't have had so much stress in the first place. But who says that volunteering is an easy thing?
         Thursday had come and it was about time for us to occupy ourselves with making our own  t-shirts. I got inspired for this activity from my involvement in a voluntary informal group in Greece ,for the rights of the lgbt's, called Good as Youth. It was almost mid of May and we, in Good As Youth, had to find a way to fund the activities of the upcoming month and here came the idea to make our own t-shirts, sell them and use this small amount of money for our goals. One unwritten principal of our organization was that nobody would spend his own money in order to cover the organization’s expenses. Every activity should be covered financially through a collective effort and this was what making our own t-shirt was about to mean- this collective effort. Sharing this idea with the children was important for me, because it felt like I was offering not only an ideological background to them, but also practically showing them that they could do something similar in the future, if they decide to participate in an activistic organization of their choice. Thus, myself and the children had already been to Kemeralti in Konak on Wednesday, in order to buy cheap but quality t-shirts and special colors for clothes and we had the entire Thursday for finishing our plan.
         I have to admit, although I had done it before, it was hard for me to pick the topic, which I would try to imprint on the t-shirt. And in the end I realized that, every topic that we had chosen, had a really special meaning for each of us. If I didn't know the children and if I hadn't spent a lot of time with them, I wouldn't really be able to understand this connection of the topic with their own personality. After two and a half months, from the beginning of my EVS, I am very pleased to find out that I have been close to the children in such a way, that I am now able to give meaning to their actions and sayings.
         B. chose to paint a giraffe, because she is a giraffe lover and A. painted the small signs that every camera has, because she wants to be a photographer one day. E. Painted a mermaid, because she always refers it to our talks. Maybe she feels like a mermaid herself or even mermaid reminds her who she wants to be- sensitive and dynamic- like fairytale mermaids. P. chose to write the word “peace” on the t-shirt, painting a bird -as a symbol of peace. I chose to paint a big chubby, sensitive and sweet blue monster, which is biking in the sky, holding colorful balloons, because I feel that sometimes people tend to perceive me as a very serious and critical person, while, deeply inside, I am a clumsy, sensitive and small cute monster. Okay, here is where I stop the description, because you probably have already felt that I am 12 when I am already 23 years old! :P


           working for the T-shirts                                                                     P. t-shirt