After having settled in to the island and figuring out the basics like where to buy groceries, how to maneuver the bus system, and when is the best time to call “dibs” on the washing machine in our apartment building, I found that I had a lot of free time on my hands. As an SO, I was new to the country and did not know anyone. Since I am shy, meeting people was going to be a challenge, and finding ways to keep myself busy was a bit of a stretch. Let’s face it: there are really only so many way to organize the kitchen, only so many times you can dust in a single day, and only so often you can check your email hoping a new message has appeared.
Refresh… Nothing. Refresh… Nothing. Refresh.. Hey, here’s something.
An email looking for volunteers to work on a kid’s television program. Hmmm. *tap fingers on the keyboard* What is this? *open email* “An educational program designed to improve childrens’ understanding of HIV and AIDS….” Hmmm. “Volunteers are needed to write scripts, help with the production, and play with kids.”
Now I LOVE movies and T.V. and since most people say I’m secretly an 8 year old at heart–my favorite color is purple, I still say, “What’s up, chicken butt?” and, as often as possible, give my husband an overdue wedgie–this sounds like it would be perfect!
So I met with Dr. Marianne, two other SOs, Sallie and Sarah, and an amazing local filmmaker, Amanda John. Together, the SOs wrote scripts, designed games, and created song lyrics for 13 episodes. We laughed, sang our own songs, painted a seriously cool backdrop for the set, and, in general, had a great time being kids ourselves.
When it came time for the production, I helped set up, worked the boom mic, shot still pictures between scenes, played with kids, and helped dismantle the set. Since they needed an arts and crafts time for the show, I was dubbed “Trendy Wendy” and got to make lots of cool projects on air. A clothespin mosquito, virus-shaped clay pieces, fiesta eggs (cascarones), pinwheels, colorful hands, can telephones, a mini-microscope, and many more items are just a few of the crafts we did and it was great fun!
My favorite memory is of the clapping games we played: So-so my playmate, Miss Suzy, and Uno Dos Siesta! Kids, adults, girls, and boys, put their own spin on it, danced, and clapped the songs in their own original way. Also, when I tried to make Play-Dough and it turned out more like Play-Goop. Pink Play-Goop, at that! Everybody loved getting their hands dirty and creativity is 99% mess, after all.
The show aired in the late summer on GBN TV on Sunday and Wednesday afternoons. You can see clips of a few episodes on the website which has lots of activities for kids to try: www.champsclubkidz.blogspot.com and people responded well to it. I am glad to have had the experience of working with other SOs and lots of kids, playing games, and just being silly. It was a nice transition to the island and something I am proud to have been a part of.
If the island of Grenada is your home-away-from-home, then the people of Grenada and fellow SOs can be your family-away-from-family. If you are new, old, shy, outgoing, silly, serious, creative, down-to-earth, geeky, people-oriented, detailed, or carefree, there is a Volunteer Opportunity that fits your style. And what an easy way to get involved, meet people, make memories, and create your own unique experience while you are here.
Best of luck, fun, and togetherness!