Thursday, May 29, 2014

Super Strikers' Graduation!

Student leader Nkosingiphile
On May 27, 2014, team Super Strikers had their Grassroot Soccer/PC Skillz graduation celebration. Fifteen learners earned a certificate of achievement by attending eight or more GRS practices. Additionally, two learners (who graduated from the program last year) became certified student leaders! Grassroot Soccer, for those who missed my previous post about it, is a soccer-themed curriculum that teaches kids about HIV/AIDS. It's also a lot of fun!

The Super Strikers put together a schedule of events for our celebration:
  1. Welcome to Super Strikers' Graduation!
  2. Mini-Practice
    a. Energizer (one coffee, two sugar)
    b. HIV Limbo
    c. Kilos (coca-cola kilo, NJ kilo, and kilo kilo)
    d. Drama (skit about gender-based violence)
  3. Awards Ceremony
  4. Celebration!

    Bobet, my counterpart, helps explain GRS
"One coffee!"
First, we described to our guests (we had a great turnout, including a few parents and several educators!) what Grassroot Soccer is all about, then we held our mini-practice. 

We start every practice with an energizer, and for graduation we demonstrated the “one coffee, two sugar” energizer. It begins by stepping out in best Sumo-style while shouting “Mmmmmmm-uh!” Then we call and respond “One coffee, two sugar!” The rest of the lines are “Water, water. Forget about the tea! Forget about the tea! Bring me milk.” When crying “Forget about the tea,” you use a falsetto voice and do a prancing little dance. It's pretty hilarious. I do have a video from last year, maybe someday I'll get around to editing and posting it.

"Bring me milk!"

Philile concentrates on the pole's height
After the energizer, we did the HIV Limbo. The limbo pole (we used a rope) represents HIV. When a learner touches the pole, it represents contracting HIV. We played two rounds, and we modified the actual practice to fit the time allowed. 

In the first round, we pretended that every player was abstinent and labeled the limbo pole “Abstinence.” Our student leaders held the pole up high, and it was quite easy for the learners to limbo underneath. Afterwards, we asked our audience whether they thought abstinence was a good strategy for avoiding HIV. They all said “Yebo!” 

In the second round, we labeled the limbo pole “Unprotected Sex.”  This time, our student leaders held the pole at waist level. Now it was very difficult for learners to pass under it! Our audience all agreed that unprotected sex is not a good strategy for avoiding HIV! The actual GRS practice uses additional limbo pole heights, representing factors such as same age partners, older partners, and much older partners.

Pretty easy to clear the "abstinence" level
Not even gonna try the "unprotected sex" height!
The old college try!

Philile leads the kilo kilo
Kilos were next. Kilos are how we celebrate and praise individuals or the group in Grassroot Soccer. We also give snaps. Other Grassroot Soccer traditions are the “Yebo!”, which is how players say yes, and the call and response, used to get participant's attention. One call and response is "Siisonke! Simunye! Simunye! Sisonke!" Kilos are always high on the list of players' favourite things about Grassroot Soccer! Kilos begin with two sets of three quick claps, followed by an action. For graduation, we demonstrated the coca-cola kilo, the NJ kilo, and the kilo kilo. The coca-cola kilo action is a deep, whole-body shiver with a loud “Brrrrrrr!”

The end of NJ kilo...
…and Bobet really threw himself into this one!

Violent boyfriend 
The finale of our mini-practice was a drama about gender-based violence. This drama was from the GRS practice “Red Card!” The goal of this practice was to help kids learn ways to deal with high risk situations and to use a “red card” to call out risky behaviours. The learners' skit opened with a boyfriend and girlfriend hanging out, listening to music. Elsewhere, a friend of theirs is being confronted by her boyfriend, who gets so angry that he beats her. The friend, in distress, goes to the home of the boyfriend & girlfriend, but initially denies being beaten by her partner. The couple comfort her, and eventually she admits what really happened. The couple go to the boyfriend and confront him, ultimately “red carding” him for gender-based violence. This skit was a little different every time the learners practiced it, so I wasn't sure what to expect on graduation day (their vicissitude reminded Perry of the little kids' nativity play in The Bells of St Mary's, if anyone remembers that movie). However, the performers' delivery at graduation was awesome and they did a great job!

Our battered victim gets support from her friends
Our capable narrator is in the background
Confronting the abusive boyfriend
A little hard to see, but the victim's friends are "drawing" their red cards, they're about to "red card" the abusive boyfriend for gender-based violence.

Congratulating a graduate
We held our awards ceremony after the practice. I'm not sure how I forgot, but I totally forgot to stage a group photo! Doh! So, I'll just post a few individual photos here. Of the fifteen learners who graduated, four had perfect attendance. I surprised them with chocolate bars. Then I presented our two student leaders with certificates. I am so proud of these two learners, Philile and Nkosingiphile. Every week, outside of class, they came to help plan our practices. Both helped conduct our practices, too. They also administered the pre- and post-tests and have been helping me enter our data into the computer. They did great! I hope they can help my counterpart, Bobet, do a Grassroot Soccer intervention next year after Perry and I are gone.

So excited!

So proud of student leaders Philile...
When everyone had their certificate in hand, we celebrated with cake and music! My husband was the cake server, so no photos, sorry. :( By popular request, we rocked to Michael Jackson. These kids have some pretty slick moves!

…and Nkosingiphile!
Once again, I can't recommend Grassroot Soccer highly enough to other PCVs. I'm a little verklempt that this will be my last intervention. It's been so much fun. It really helps you build relationships and a sense of community with your learners -- and teaches them some important life skills. If you're a PCV/RPCV who's done this program, please leave us a  comment about it! Leave a comment even if you're not Peace Corps!

- Elizabeth

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