The Olympics!Posted: September 5, 2012
It’s time to catch you up with the latest going-ons round these parts.
So about a month ago, I launched a campaign at the Center called: “Work Hard. Play Hard.” It seems like a pretty basic concept for us Americans, but my kids had never heard of it before. They’re constantly berated by parents and teachers to “work harder”, “stop walking around like the cattle”, “pull up your socks’, etc. But never are the kids encouraged to balance this with playing; and though it can’t be argued that they play a ridiculous amount of soccer, sometimes they almost feel like they’re breaking the rules by doing so.
Anyway, so I launched this campaign. And the kids became obsessed. They constantly referenced our slogan, and one kid even found a song online called “Work Hard, Play Hard”, and played it at the center incessantly. We made two posters – each one dedicated to either working or playing – and checked off the names of the learners who came to participate in either one of those activities. Then, we divided them up into two teams (are you following this?) and kept track of their work hard and play hard points. This all culminated in a much-anticipated CENTER OLYMPICS, in which each team started with the number of points we had calculated, and then competed in athletic activities all day. The winning team would be the one whose total number of points from Work Hard/Play Hard AND the all-day Olympics exceeded the other.
It sounds simple, but here was the tricky part. I had no idea the number of kids that would show up (could be anywhere from fifteen to one hundred and fifty); they are all different ages with different English levels (how could we include everyone, or pick and choose who could compete without total chaos?), and I had to keep track of points the entire day, with kids arguing and fighting about who was winning, etc. So I was a little nervous.
But don’t worry! It was pulled together (almost) seamlessly. About 120 kids (ages 5-18) came, we suited them up with a colored bandana, and launched the Olympics. We started out with a game of soccer, played by the older boys. Then we did three-legged races, which was good because we could match competitors by size on each team, and anyone could participate. Then we continued with netball by the older girls, and an egg-and-spoon race. That was SO funny because the kids had never seen that game, and were so confused why we would risk breaking a whole egg – a valuable source of protein – for a 30 second race. But they had an absolute blast, and I turned a blind eye when the leftover eggs were pocketed. Finally, after hours of playing in the hot sun, I brought out two buckets of water balloons, hoping to host one more game in which we could see how far the red and blue teams could pass their respective water balloons down a long line. Only that lasted for about three minutes before I chucked a water balloon at a learner and started an all-out war. It was a perfect end to a very long and crazy day. Want to see pictures?