General News: Pre-Texts
A number of Pre-Texts workshops and trainings were held this summer, including ones in Uganda, Colombia, and Chile.
Beginning in September, the Cultural Agents Initiative will bring Pre-Texts to more youth from Greater Boston through after-school programs. Check out our next newsletter for more on these local initiatives!
United Somali Youth: Cambridge, MA
The Cultural Agents team continues to host the United Somali Youth summer Pre-Texts program on the Harvard campus. The youth participants have grown increasingly confident in their roles as facilitators, embracing Pre-Texts methods and values such as waiting for everyone to speak and respecting diverse interpretations. Each session, two or three facilitators lead activities based upon excerpts from Dave Eggers’s What is the What, a novel documenting the experiences of a Sudanese war refugee. Students draw directly from the text in order to play a game of charades depicting literary devices, choreograph a dance routine based upon a particular scene, or write a backstory of a secondary character. The group frequently breaks into laughter and applause while watching their peers perform or listen to a thoughtful explanation of an interpretive choice.
Intern Amanda Bennett shares an experience from a recent workshop:As a Pre-Texts facilitator, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the USY students and learn how they creatively approach literature. Students created and led an activity today in which participants had to create hashtags or tweets based on the text, which allowed students to connect with What is the What in a way that seemed relevant to their daily lives.
Parques Educativos: Antioquia, Colombia
Capacity Leader Pedro Reina-Pérez shares his impressions after leading one of the 4 three-day Pre-Texts workshops that were held in Antioquia, July 14-16:
My workshop was held in Guatapé–one hour away from Medellín–at “El Zócalo,” which is one of the nicest Parques Educativos in Antioquia. Guatapé is practically surrounded by water as it has one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the country. The people were welcoming and eager to be of service. They were truly warm.
The group was comprised of 30 teachers from all school levels. They were enthusiastic, cheerful, and very committed to their craft. It did not take much time to convince them to jump head-on into the Pre-Texts activities. They were proud of their “paisa” (regional) culture, and expressed it in each activity. Curiosity was one of the traits that characterized their approach to learning. They demanded clarity from us and responded with creativity and originality.
Music and poetry in all forms stood out from day one. Whether through “trova” music or hip hop the participants were eager to respond to the challenges presented. To our surprise, the group bid Elsa [the co-facilitator] and me farewell with a trova as we stood outside in the sun. It was a personal and gratifying end to our three-day stay in a land bursting with opportunity.