It is Thursday, January 19th, 2012 and the school year at Agahozo Shalom is officially in full swing; the Enrichment Programs (EP) has begun.  In the morning, all staff members within Informal Education met and discussed the final details of the day's activities, and at 5pm the Enrichment Year or Senior 3 began their respective Art EPs.  The first day of each EP was primarily dedicated towards introductions and orienting the students to the topics hey will cover over the coming term.  

In the Piano EP, Jennifer opened up the term by introducing the students to each other and to the room. She then went over basic rules for the class, such as respecting the instruments and each other, and discussed the schedule for the term. She then taught the students how to identify notes on the keyboard through the use of landmark notes such as middle C, G with the right hand, and F with the left hand.  The students then worked to apply their newly acquired knowledge by matching note cards of written notes with landmark notes on the piano. Jennifer reported that overall the kids were excited to be in the Piano class, and they were anxious to build their skills to a level that will allow them to play actual songs. Next week Jennifer plans on teaching the kids a short song on the piano. 

Just a few doors down in the Modern Art EP, students also learned about the importance of respecting the art center and supplies, respecting themselves, and respecting the art work of their peers.  They discussed the role that art plays within our society and then discussed the concept of “abstract art” and the ways in which it allows for them to share their emotions and unique perspectives with others.  After analyzing various abstract art photos, the students then drew and presented their own pieces of abstract art.

Across the yard, in Sewing EP, Mama Agnes and Caritas began teaching the students about the different parts of the sewing machine, how to thread a needle, and other introductory concepts. The students were also noticeably eager to learn and acquire a host of new skills. 

For many of our students this is the first opportunity they have had to take part in extracurricular activities such as Film and Photography and Carpentry. When asked by Senior 3 Coordinator, Andrew how they feel about the village, various enrichment students have replied that being at the village has allowed them their first chance to go inside an art center or to play sports, and so they are eager to do everything. 

The Enrichment Programs play a multi-faceted role within the village. They are not only an opportunity for students to learn about Painting, Basket Weaving, Music Recording, and sports; they also serve as another means of helping the students master English. This year, even more than others, the village is pushing for the students to excel in speaking English, and this newest class has already proven that this is an attainable goal. According to the Andrew, although the mean age of this new class of students is much younger than previous classes, they are very motivated and they know English better than previous incoming classes. In addition to consistent participation in the EPs, Andrew stated that he would also like to see a culture of reading infiltrate the Enrichment Year. He believes that greater utilization of the library and the building of analytical skills through EPs and activities such as chess will serve this class well. 

As one watched the kids walk with a purpose to and from their new EPs, one possessed the indelible sense that new worlds were slowly being revealed to many of the students. On Thursdays between 5:00pm and 6:30pm the students will not simply learn how to make pretty objects ; they will learn how to analyze and create concepts, discover their own hidden talents, and present their unique artistic perspectives to their community.