Last month, Michael made a special trip to the Carroll School in Lincoln, Massachusetts to discuss the work of CSFilm with an elementary school class. The students are reading the Afghan book The Breadwinner, which takes place during the Taliban regime and was the impetus for inviting Michael to provide a more contemporary perspective. Below are some of the thank you cards and drawings sent to Michael from the kids.
It was a completely new experience communicating with this age group. We don’t usually try and engage kids under High School age and even older students can be a reach without a specific focus on issues such as the role of the media in society, poverty reduction, governance or geography.
Lessons learned from elementary school students:
1. Be prepared to role with a nonlinear conversation and questions coming at you mid-thought and sentence – unless you lay down different rules and try and stick to them – as Dinan, their teacher, quickly implemented for Michael.
2. No matter how much you try and expand the conversation beyond “the war,” some boys at this age are only going to ask you about your experience of guns and bombs.
3. Youth have remarkable memories and will latch on to everything you say – even side comments – as can be seen in the inclusion of some repeated oddities in their comments and pictures, such as:
“I learned that Afghans drink Coke.” I asked them what was unusual in one one picture I showed. I was expecting them to note that the women were not wearing burkas and were dressed in western clothes. A few of them instead rightly noted the Coke can on a table and expressed surprise that soda is available in Afghanistan.
In a few of their comments they noticed that all the cars were Toyota Corollas, an amazing truth – almost all cars in Afghanistan are Corollas – an oddity that occurred since the return of cars post Taliban. Hence a number of drawings with Toyota logos!
You’ll also notice that many got the theme of the presentation – that Afghanistan is much more than a war zone as commonly depicted in our media.