By: Christopher, Work Study Medan
Every Friday, the Medan center has a special activities class in the afternoon instead of normal lessons. While I’m staying here as a Work-Study Volunteer, one of my roles is to plan these activities. This week, I organized a small cultural and crafts session for the children. I used to live in Japan, and while I was there, students at my school taught me origami and especially about the story and use of the crane. I wanted to share this at Medan.
I first told the children the story of how making a thousand cranes is considered very lucky and is said to grant one wish. Then we taught the students how to make one. They all watched each and every fold and crease, brows furrowed, trying it out themselves.
We took a small break from crane-making and told the story about Sadako, a girl who made a thousand cranes to grant her wish. I split them into two teams with the aim of seeing who could make the most in twenty minutes and then we’d make them into chains.Soon, parents and directors joined in, wanting to learn and trying to make as many as possible. Everyone forgot about the teams, and concentrated on folding until they could make the perfect crane without help. I had hoped that the class would be a success, but I never expected the children to be so intently focused on their cranes!
We strung all the cranes together in one long chain, took some photos and hung it up in the center. Some of the students even took the left over origami paper home so that they could continue practicing and make more.
It was wonderful to share a culture that wasn’t even my own and to have the kids be so immersed in the activity.
The following day, I was given the chance to meet three of the TEP students and visit their homes to see where they come from. Lissa, one of Medan’s co-directors, explained to me that while these girls do not attend classes at the center itself, sponsors help them with living, transportation and educational costs.
After warm introductions, the girls’ families brought us tea, and we sat with the girls while they wrote thank you letters to their sponsors. They were eager to have their pictures taken and later wanted a small photoshoot with me and the local volunteer. Once they had finished their letters and took photos to show their sponsors, the girls were kind enough to take us on a small tour of their local area before saying good bye.
I was glad to have the chance to see where some of IHF’s students come from and to meet some of the TEP children. These young girls were nothing but warm and kind, making us feel welcome from the start. Their smiles were a constant. It’s easy to see how grateful the kids are for their sponsors, volunteers, and IHF in general.
As the days go by, I find myself wishing I could have joined IHF for a longer period of time.