The Matènwa Community Learning Center Summer Camp has just ended! It was one of our most successful programs ever! How so? We will let Jemima Douyon do the talking. Jemima is a Haitian-American and was a teaching fellow at the New York City Department of Education from 2012 to 2014. She is now a middle school teacher at a private school in NYC. She is also a graduate student at Columbia University where she is studying comparative and international education with an academic interest in bilingual/mother tongue based education. She was this year’s camp coordinator and a workshop leader.
Jemima's Reflections on this year's Summer Camp at MCLC.
I am so happy to have been a part of camp this year, especially as its coordinator. After spending an incredible summer in Matènwa last summer, I decided to come back again. I am always amazed by the beautiful spirit of the people of Matènwa. I was welcomed with open arms and felt like a member of the community.
Every morning for two weeks, I provided training to 13 secondary school teachers. This year, using the Socratic Seminar Method—the work of Maurice Sixto and Paolo Friere— we discussed the importance of having dialogue and rich discussions in the classroom. Teachers were able to model how they could use the techniques they learned during the workshop. I feel the teachers understood that using speech in the classroom should not be limited only to literary classes but should also be used in the sciences and mathematics. In the rich discussions of our workshops, we discussed “Restavèk” (children sent by parents to work as domestic servants because parents lack the resources to support them), colonization and its implication on the current education system, as well as many other topics. The goal of the training was to exemplify how to engage students in rich conversations and create a critical thinking space in the classroom.
Aside from working with the secondary school teachers, running camp was especially fun for me. This year, I was able to bring a lot of materials to camp that helped make camp possible for almost 300 hundred children of all ages. Sometimes, even adults attended the workshops. The camp activities ranged from knitting, sowing, photography, leadership and entrepreneurship training, woodworking, to even a drawing and thinking class! Younger children had the opportunity to choose from a variety of board and physical education games.
I enjoyed working with the children and providing teachers and visitors the support they needed. The children came from all over the neighboring towns of Matènwa, sometimes walking as far as one hour to get to the school. It was evident to me that the summer camp is an experience that children from the community and beyond enjoy and look forward to. Being in Matènwa in the summer is a rich experience that I hope to continue.