Anna (see previous post The Old Adobe Church, the Wolf and Survival) and I have a friend, Vera Booth, who teaches at Mt. View Elementary in Cordova, NM, just one village down the mountain from our village of Truchas. She has combined her 5th and 6th grade classes to work together on a social studies project, and this is where we came in. Vera asked if we would come to her class, in our official roles as artists, to help make papier-mâché dragon heads.
You see, the children are studying China and as part of their studies, they are putting on a full-fledged festival to mark the Chinese New Year. Seen most often during festive celebrations, they will be performing their version a traditional Dragon Dance. So they are in the process of making their dragons.
And it was such an eye-opening day. Not only were these children filled with creative energy (enough to exhaust Anna and me by the end of class—we felt so OLD), but they were also amazing problem solvers. Working with a mass of materials, a mind-boggling array of possibilities, they settled on ways to make snouts and teeth, eyes an manes.
In order to do this, they had to work together. And these kids modeled a remarkable ability to come together toward a common goal. They listened to each other, weighed ideas, and came to agreements. They complimented good solutions and were gracious about those that fell away.
Some kids were busy cutting crepe paper, while others cut out teeth and, still others, attached parts. These dragons represent nothing less than a healthy, thriving, productive community. They are an example of what we all can do when we work together. Each of us has something to learn from this class.
While the room was, quite literally, bursting with creative energy, over in one corner a group of students sat quietly doing research on the school’s computers about the Great Wall of China. That’s the next project: the class is building the Great Wall out in the hallway.
The Chinese Dragon symbolizes much in that culture. One phrase I happened upon was, “Hoping that the child will become a dragon,” meaning to have much success and to be as powerful as the dragon. And I wish this for every child in that class. May each and every one of them become a dragon.
While the dragons weren’t finished before the end of the school day, the kids were off to a great start and, for Anna and me, our day’s work was done. We came back to my place and celebrated the flourishing of a whole new generation of creative spirits, toasting the close of a wonderful day, and one more beautiful New Mexico sunset. Here are more pictures from the rest of the day:
Love to you all,