marissa's blog en Extreme Makeover: School Edition <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(175, 432, 272); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>Standard 1 and Standard 4 classroom which we have painted with teaching aids and murals to improve the learning environment in Mzuzu schools. I have hired a Malawian friend to continue painting at Mzuzu schools see below (click the "read more" link) for the missions, core values, and budget of the project. If you would like to sponsor a classroom or donate in part please contact me. We are eager to finish painting the remaining 12 classrooms at Zolozolo Primary School and move onto other schools in Mzuzu. </p> <p>MISSION</p> <p>Our mission is to improve the quality of education in Malawi’s schools by creating an inviting and inspiring learning environment. We do this by painting classroom walls with interactive teaching aids and murals.</p> <p>CORE VALUES</p> <p>1) Bring art education to students and teachers by including them in the painting process.<br /> 2) Every picture has a purpose (teachers should be able to use the pictures in their lessons, and/or the pupils should be able to teach themselves lessons by interacting with the pictures on their own)<br /> 3) Always encourage gender equality and empowerment of individual talents and abilities.<br /> 4) Give pupils a high level of responsibility and have high expectations for the quality of their work. Guide, encourage and support them while they work pointing them towards success.<br /> 5) Foster a spirit of pride for the school and a sense of teamwork while working.</p> <p>PRIORITIES</p> <p>· Paint as many classrooms as possible using the money and supplies we have<br /> · Buy all supplies locally to support the local economy<br /> · Paint academic resources that can be used by teachers.<br /> · Involve as many pupils as can be managed and supervised well. Make sure each child is given tasks and responsibilities.<br /> · Include questions and words with pictures so the students can interact with the pictures and learn.</p> <p>BUDGET PER CLASSROOM </p> <p>Supplies $60.00<br /> Money Transfer Fees $20.00<br /> Malawi Supervisor Salary $20.00<br /> Transport $10.00</p> <p>total $110.00</p> <p>HISTORY</p> <p>Children are visual learners, they learn and remember what they see. Therefore it is very important for a school to create an inviting, inspiring and engaging visual learning environment. An essential part of achieving this goal is to have teaching aids and colorful pictures on the walls each and every day for the children to interact with. </p> <p>Children should not suffer for the bad acts of others. It is a shame that due to theft, teaching aids and other learning tools cannot be hung on the walls at Mzuzu schools. Because this is the case, we are motivated to paint the walls with teaching aids and pictures to improve the quality of education and create a strong learning environment. Painted walls should be well cared for, they can be washed whenever necessary, and should last many years into the future to the benefit of many children and teachers.</p> <p>In addition to improving the visual learning environment, this project brings art education to students and teachers in Malawi. Government schools have not provided art education in Malawi since colonialism. Painting murals introduces new skills and opportunities for creativity and self-expression which is new to the vast majority of the students and even teachers that we work with. Many of them get to hold a paint brush and play with paint for the first time in their lives.</p> <p>One classroom at a time, we are collaborating with teachers and students at local primary schools, making an effort to transform the currently empty rooms into something inviting, inspiring and engaging. Marissa Saints, an American artist who spent 2006 living in Mzuzu was inspired with this idea of painting classrooms during her time in Malawi. Mrs. Saints and her husband are both blessed to have mothers who are teachers, both of whom came paid the Saints a visit in Malawi. Mrs. Saints’ mother-in-law came in June bringing a suitcase full of teaching aids, posters and books. Mzuzu schools were very grateful to receive these things but eplained that they would have to remain in the principal's office under lock and key because they would be stolen if left unattended in the classrooms.</p> <p>With Mrs. Saint’s mother visiting in September, the Lord gave her an idea for the schools. Why not paint the teaching aids directly on the walls so they can’t be stolen? </p> <p>Painting teaching aids on the walls has absolutely transformed classrooms in Mzuzu. Children are excited to come to school, they are teaching themselves be reading the walls, teachers enjoy teaching in their new classroom and they are all proud of their work and their school.</p> <br class="clear" /> Local Schools murals schools Sun, 03 Dec 2006 04:55:24 -0500 marissa 176 at Zolozolo Primary School Library Opening Ceremony <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(171, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>Yesterday I visited Zolozolo Primary School for the Grand Opening <span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(172, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>ceremonies for their new library. This school recieved 1.5 tons of books from the <a href="">World Care</a> shipment. Zolozolo has dedicated a small room for the library, built shelves, labeled everything by category, and are making arrangements for student library cards and class visits to the library for reading time. This is a school that only had 1 book per 6 or so kids before this shipment. They are <span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(173, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>proud to have a library and have been incredibly self-motivated and resourceful in getting everything organized so quickly. As the World Care representative they gave me the honor of cutting the ribbon and opening the door for the first time.</p> <br class="clear" /> Box Project box project Daily Life Local Schools schools Sun, 03 Dec 2006 04:29:57 -0500 marissa 174 at Recent Painting Sales <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(169, 638, 332); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>These two paintings recently sold. I wanted to post them here since I won't be showing them back home.<br /> "The Village in The Sky" acrylic on canvas (left)<br /> "Malawi Mama Returning Home" egg tempera (right)</p> <br class="clear" /> Acrylic artwork Egg Tempera Sun, 03 Dec 2006 04:13:16 -0500 marissa 170 at WESM Artsfest November 10-13 <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(167, 432, 289); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>Recently, I exhibited my landscape paintings at the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM) Artsfest. It was a fund raiser for the organization, and an avenue for local artists and expat artists to professionally exhibit their work. Most Malawian artists rely on selling to tourists that they meed on the streets. Personally, I was impressed with the quality and variety of work at the show.</p> <br class="clear" /> artwork Sun, 03 Dec 2006 04:03:22 -0500 marissa 168 at Malawian Corkscrew <p><span class="inline left"><img src="" alt="Malawian Corkscrew" title="Malawian Corkscrew" class="image img_assist_custom" width="425" height="200" /><span class="caption" style="width: 423px;"><strong>Malawian Corkscrew</strong></span></span></p> <br class="clear" /> Daily Life Fri, 10 Nov 2006 00:59:42 -0500 marissa 165 at What Colors Were Your Classroom Walls? <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(154, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Local Classroom Before Murals</strong></span></span>I remember mine…they were white but there was hardly any white showing. One wall was entirely huge glass windows that looked outside to a nice lawn with beautiful trees and bushes, the other had miles and miles of chalk board, the third was a wall of cabinets covered in paintings from art class, reports and pictures from class, and the last was covered in bulletin boards with a rainbow of colors, words, shapes and themes of all sorts. On top of that we had carpet with beanbags for reading time, a game corner, a mini-library, a fish tank, personalized desks, and large tables for projects. That’s what you call a learning environment. A space that is comfortable, inviting and inspiring. Surrounded by words, colors and pictures a child can learn on his own.</p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(153, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>All School Cleaning Day</strong></span></span>A kid at Zolozolo Primary School in Mzuzu might say that her walls are white as well. But her walls have chipped paint and the white hardly shows through the layers of red dust and grime that have built up over the past 14 years when it was painted for the first and last time. Two of the walls have windows with glass panes, a luxury here, but the window frames are jagged with broken pieces of glass and the crystal clear panes are a distant memory, pre-dating the children behind these walls. On another wall there is a chalkboard and on the back wall there are six spaces which once held cork for bulletin boards but nothing remains. With no glass in the windows and no door for security everything goes missing, even cork and even home-made teaching aids from old boxes and sticks. There are no desks, no tables and no chairs…not even for the teacher…just a gray, dusty concrete floor. About 80-150 kids pack into this 20’ X20’ classroom at any time. The conditions are anything but inspiring or inviting.</p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(155, 324, 432); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Painting Animals</strong></span></span>One classroom at a time, I am collaborating with teachers and students at a local primary school, making an effort to transform the drab and dreary into something inviting, inspiring and engaging. Jon and I are both blessed to have mothers who are teachers, and both mothers came to visit us in Malawi this year. When Jon’s mother came in June she brought a suitcase full of teaching aids, posters and books. We delivered some of the materials to Zolozolo Primary School during her visit. Mrs. Kachali, the head teacher, was very touched by the thoughtfulness that went into the gift, and explained to us that the materials would be stored safely in her office. The teachers would be able to check out the alphabet chart for the day and pass it along to another teacher next. We were a bit disappointed that the maps and charts couldn’t be hung on classroom walls to brighten the place up and give the kids a chance to teach themselves, but theft is such a big problem.</p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(158, 432, 258); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Mom visits</strong></span></span>With my mom’s visit approaching in September, the idea dawned on me. Why not paint the teaching aids directly on the walls so they can’t be stolen? I remembered the time when someone pointed out to me that there is NO graffiti in Mzuzu…not at the university, the public schools, the bus depot, nor in the poorest neighborhoods. Graffiti was our only concern, but people are so poor that they don't have enough money to buy spray paint or a permanent marker, therefore eliminating our one and only concern. </p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(156, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Gilbert</strong></span></span>This is how I've ended up at elementary schools is Mzuzu trying to supervise 20+ kids and 10+ teachers who have never held a paintbrush or had any art instruction in their lives, and how I ran my Mom ragged during her visit. Painting the walls with educational murals has absolutely transformed the classrooms. Kids are excited to come to school, they are teaching themselves be reading the walls, and they are proud of their work and their school. </p> <p>Depending on how the next month goes, I may consider formalizing this project and taking donations for future schools. We have budgeted that it only costs around $100 to paint a classroom used by 200 children each day. The supplies are all sources locally (paint, <span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(160, 324, 432); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>The Verb To Be</strong></span></span>brushes, varnish, etc.) and it’s the children and teachers that do nearly all of the painting, I only supervise. We painted a fresh base coat, then used acrylic paint for the pictures, and a clear varnish to finish. The walls can be washed with soap and water which is good because it gets very dusty and kiddos have dirty hands. All in all, I expect that the pictures will last a good 10+ years…think how many kids that’s touching!</p> <br class="clear" /> Local Schools murals Sat, 28 Oct 2006 07:04:37 -0400 marissa 161 at Profile of Mzuzu Schools <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(149, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Makeshift Classroom</strong></span></span>This blog is long, LONG overdue. Back in April I started visiting local primary (grades 1-8) and secondary (grades 9-12) schools, planning for the distribution of books coming from World Care in Tucson. We were expecting the container to ship out from the World Care warehouses at the end of May, which would have it arriving in Malawi 3-6 months later. Just last Friday, October 20th , we received the container in Mzuzu and unloaded 30,000 lbs of books into an empty classroom at Mzuzu University where they will be stored during distribution. This literally doubles, even quadruples in some cases, the number of books at these schools. It’s very exciting to be a part of this effort.</p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(148, 640, 387); return false;" target="_blank"></a><span class="caption" style="width: -2px;"><strong>Typical Outdoor Classroom</strong></span></span>Today, two of our 6 six schools came to collect their books! In two weeks I will be visiting schools with the Distric Education Manager to discuss with teachers and administration ways to use the books in the classroom and manage their new library so students and community members can borrow books. I claim to be no expert in these things but at least the discussions and planning sessions will take place. I want to make sure that the books get USED, no just sit “safely” in a locked room or closet. </p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(150, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>Masasa Full Primary School</p> <p>Head Teacher: Mr. K.P. Ngwira Chikawi<br /> Student Population: 1819<br /> Grade Levels: Standards 1-8 (equivalent of 1-8 grades)<br /> Age Range: 5-18 yrs old<br /> Classrooms: 13 (4 have electricity)<br /> Student/Teacher ratio: 100/1</p> <p>CURRICULUM<br /> Agriculture English Mathematics<br /> Social Studies Science Chichewa<br /> Creative Arts Physical Education Needle Crafts</p> <p>NEEDS<br /> Desks -The school has zero desks and only 220 plastic lawn chairs for their 1,819 students.-There are 13 classrooms falling into 3 different sizes:SMALL: 19’x 24’MEDIUM: 22’ x 22’LARGE: 23’ x 24’<br /> Portable Chalkboards(5-10 needed) To reduce class size, the school would like to have some classes meet outside. They need sturdy, portable chalkboards for outdoors.<br /> Globes<br /> Library Books The school would like to start a library. They need childrens books, reference books, etc. Enough to get a small library started.<br /> English Text Books Needed for ALL standards (grades 1-8)<br /> Social Studies Text Books Nedded for standards 5 and 8 (equivalent to grades 5 and 8)<br /> Math Text Books Needed for standards 6, 7, 8<br /> Teachers’ Guides ALL subjects, ALL grade levels<br /> Teaching Aids Charts for walls (alphabet, shapes, numbers, times tables, etc)<br /> Art Supplies Crayons, paper, markers, scissors, etc.</p> <p>Zolozolo Full Primary School</p> <p>Head Teacher (Principal): Mrs. G.A. Kachali<br /> Student Population: 2,423<br /> Grade Levels: Standards 1-8 (equivalent of 1-8 grades)<br /> Age Range: 5-18 yrs old<br /> Classrooms: 12 (6 additional classes meet outside under the shade of a tree)<br /> Students/Teacher ratio: 80/1<br /> Desks: Only for students in standards 5-8</p> <p>CURRICULUM<br /> Agriculture English Mathematics<br /> Social Studies Science Chichewa Language<br /> Creative Arts Physical Education Needle Crafts</p> <p>Matope Junior Primary School</p> <p>Head Teacher (Principal): Mr. Mwamkenenge<br /> Student Population: 500<br /> Grade Levels: Standards 1-2 (equivalent of 1-2 grades)<br /> Age Range: 5-8 yrs old<br /> Classrooms: meet in a church with two rooms (4 classes in the big room, 1 class in smaller room (2 additional classes meet outside, head teacher’s office is a closet)<br /> Student/Teacher ratio: 60/1<br /> Desks: 0<br /> Chairs: 0<br /> Benches: 30<br /> Karonga Girls Secondary School</p> <p>Acting Head Master: Mr. Chipapa Phiri<br /> Student Population: 324<br /> Grade Levels: Forms 1-4 (equivalent of 9-12 grades)<br /> Age Range: 13-21 yrs old<br /> Classrooms: 6 (w/ electricity 220v)<br /> Students /teacher ratio: 80/1<br /> On average the school has about 1 book per 6 students in each subject area.</p> <p><span class="inline right"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(151, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>St. Peter’s Private Secondary School</p> <p>Acting Head Mistress: Mrs. Jen Whitlock<br /> Student Population: 450<br /> Grade Levels: Jr. Secondary – Sr. Secondary (equivalent of 6-12 grades)<br /> Age Range: 12-21 yrs old<br /> Library with shelves and lots of books...problem is that they have received a lot of books that have irrelevant or out-of-date material and are not usable.</p> <br class="clear" /> Box Project Local Schools Sat, 28 Oct 2006 06:29:19 -0400 marissa 152 at Artists Supporting Artists <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(146, 432, 282); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>I have commissioned local woodcarver and artist, Solomon and Gilbert, to make custom, hand carved frames for my paintings. I’m getting ready for exhibitions back home and thought that it would be a nice touch to have frames made in Malawi especially since woodcarving is the main art form here. In addition, it makes work for local artists!</p> <br class="clear" /> artwork Daily Life Sat, 28 Oct 2006 06:13:56 -0400 marissa 147 at Egg Tempera Demo with Ekwendeni Youth <p><span class="inline left"><a href="/malawi/" onclick="launch_popup(145, 432, 324); return false;" target="_blank"></a></span>A while back I did an egg tempera paint making demonstration with the Youth AIDS Resource Center in Ekwendeni (a small town just north of Mzuzu). The center is run by the CCAP (Central Church of Africa Presbyterian) and has some 26 youth clubs around the area. One of their clubs is the handmade paper making club. Using recycled materials (office papers, newspaper, etc) they make their own paper and cards for sale. The proceeds goes towards paying school fees for orphans and providing food for the HIV/AIDS home-based care program out in the villages. Before I did my demonstration they were decorating cards with collages (leafs, feathers, dried flowers, etc), but expressed interest in painting. It was a perfect opportunity to share the results of my experimentation with natural pigments. This group doesn’t have it in their budget to be buying paint but they can easily dig up colorful soils in their “backyard”, make charcoal and collect white chalk from schools. </p> <p>Today I visited the Center again and was happy to see that they have continued with the painting. They were excited about how easy it was to make paint on their own and are coming up with new designs while they continue to work with collage as well.</p> <br class="clear" /> Development Egg Tempera Thu, 26 Oct 2006 12:52:33 -0400 marissa 143 at Oil Paint Disaster <p>I am kind of discouraged after a week of experimenting with making oil paints using natural pigments and linseed oil. The conclusion of my experiments is that it doesn’t work. My pigments all come from soils and I was using linseed oil bought at the local hardware store. The linseed oil turns the pigment powders about five shades darker, and after a week, they still haven’t dried. Linseed oil is supposed to be a “drying oil” meaning that with oxidation a chemical change takes place turning the oil into a dry plastic-like solid. It’s a bit of a shame that this didn’t work since I have 4 liters of linseed oil sitting in our shed. </p> <p>Originally I was making the transition from egg tempera to oil paint in order to paint on canvas. Oil paint is more flexible than egg tempera, therefore can be used on a flexible support like canvas, whereas egg tempera requires a more rigid support like wood panels, board, or in my case thick paper. The root of the problem must be that I am using “industrial-grade” not “artist-grade” linseed oil. I’m going to bring back some of my pigments and try this again at home with the highest quality artist-grade linseed oil. </p> <p>In the mean time, I am going to continue working in egg tempera on 300lb hot-pressed watercolor paper. If I mount and frame these properly when I get back home they should be in good shape to last 100+ years!</p> <br class="clear" /> Homemade Paint Natural Pigments Thu, 19 Oct 2006 02:27:23 -0400 marissa 142 at