By LAURA HUMBLE – STAFF WRITER
During the summer, some people wait tables or work retail. Some people stay on Centre’s campus to do research. Senior Eric Theodore went to Mérida, Mexico.
Theodore went to Mérida in order to teach students the power of creativity through art at an internship with Habla, a bilingual, language-education center based in the Mexican state of Yucatán.
“I was there a little over five weeks teaching students art, focusing on their individual creativity,” Theodore said. “There was a mix of different levels of fluency. Some kids didn’t know any English, some kids didn’t know any Spanish, and some knew a little bit of both.”
Theodore, a Studio Art major and Spanish and English minor, is no stranger to the language barrier, having participated in the Centre-In-Mexico program in Mérida in the fall of 2013.
This time, however, there was a greater challenge to communication.
“There were two other teachers and we all spoke a different native language. One spoke Spanish and the other spoke Czech. Planning classes was difficult at first, but we improved as time went on,” Theodore said.
The camp was a four-week day camp with students ranging from ages six to thirteen. Each week focused on a different theme.
“The theme of the camp was exploring the five senses. The first week was touch, the second week was hearing, the third week was sight, and the last week was a combination of smell and taste,” Theodore said.
The focus lay in arts projects. Theodore and the other two teachers each had different specialties which they incorporated in their lessons.
“[One teacher] got her art degree in Prague and specialized in tapestry and weaving. [The other teacher] was a mixed media artist.” Theodore, meanwhile, specializes in painting.
“During touch week, we created a story about detectives and thieves and did projects based on that. We focused on things like fingerprints and finger puppets. During hearing week, we made our own instruments and played them on the last day for the parents,” Theodore said.
Theodore’s favorite week was sight week, the third week of the program.
“That was when I felt like I was most in my element. [All the teachers’] specialties joined together very well that week. [We] transformed a bathroom into a photography dark room and had the kids make pinhole cameras and develop photos inside. Meanwhile, outside, I was teaching them how to mix colors outside. I gave them the basics: blue, yellow and white. They had to make as many different colors as they could, then they painted frames so they could put their pinhole camera photos in the frames.”
The final week was a combination of smell and taste, and the focus was on food and nutrition.
“We had the kids paint a still life of watermelon. Then, afterwards, we all ate the watermelon,” Theodore said with a huge smile on his face.
In the future, Theodore would love to return and spend a greater length of time in Mérida.
“I’ve been there twice now for a few months at a time. I would like to go back and live there for a year or so and get a feel for the language.”
The experience was a perfect fit for Theodore. “This job was spot on for me. I felt like this was where I was supposed to be as an Art major with a Spanish and English minor,” Theodore said. “It’s refreshing to work with kids. I felt like I learned a lot from them. Kids have a different view of life and a different approach to what they do. Don’t ever put them in a box. Let them let their natural creativity out. All their different paintings were unique to them and it was wonderful to see that.”