Gabriela Ocádiz, CSU Alum (’15), M.M., Music Education
PhD student in Music Education at Western Ontario University
My experience with Kids Do it All in Todos Santos has always been enriching in many senses, particularly professionally and personally.
The purpose of the program, in my own words, is to give opportunities for children to express themselves – their thoughts, feelings, and personal life – through storytelling, theater, music, and art. It is a different educational proposal because we take everything that the kids come up with and help them transform it into a play; we do not intend to teach them what to do, but we facilitate the space for them to build whatever they want. All of what they know, and who they are, is welcome, accepted, and applauded. The outcome, and the process, is different every time because neither the counselors nor the students know where their ideas are going to end up. Their imagination, their daily experiences with others, has the possibility to be recreated and transformed specially through theater, and this provides an amazing learning experience for all of us.
During my time at CSU, I discovered this way of learning, and it provided me with the opportunity to work on a program such as Kids Do It All (KDIA) in my home country. The ability to communicate with people, writing, and planning were skills that I learned through different activities at CSU. Leading this program helped me understand that nothing can be possible if it is not through the work of a strong community, in Colorado and in Todos Santos.
My experience leading the camp was challenging, but highly rewarding. There is always a feeling of accomplishment that comes from months of work, combined with the sadness of knowing that the days of playing, singing, acting, and laughing will come to an end!
If the program ends with children laughing and playing – dressed up like princesses, lions, monkeys, or kings of the world – the program has achieved the goals of helping kids realize that they can do, and be, whatever they want in life; that what they have to say is important; and that there are people who will love to hear it. As a music teacher and personally, KDIA helps me remember that there is still much more to do to give even more children the opportunity to have an experience such as this.
This program has the characteristic of being bilingual and bicultural. Mexican children share the experience with children from Colorado to achieve a common goal. Since last year, the program added one more level by inviting students from the Universidad Autonóma de Baja California Sur (UABSC) to work together with the CSU counselors, and I also lead those students; being originally from Mexico and having lived abroad, another level was added to this cultural engagement.
One of the things that spoke a lot to me this year was the amazing work, flexibility, and care that the counselors had with the children. Many of them did not speak fluent Spanish, but were willing to try the best they could to communicate with their groups. Communication is complicated when you do not speak the native language, therefore, communication comes in a circus of movements, drawings, signs, and sounds to be able to understand each other, and the outcome is beautiful to observe.
A story I can share is when a group of Mexican girls wanted to talk to an American girl. They asked me to translate to English several times and they were able to share a bit. Later, one of the girls asked me to read a letter she wrote in English (with the help of google translate) to see if it was good enough to give to her friend. I was moved by the way something that appears limiting, such as the difficulty of communication, was not a limit anymore. The girl who received the letter was really excited to know someone had such an interest in communicating with her, and said that no one had done something like that for her before.
We are living in a really complex world where difficulties and differences are not praised but diminished. This program is a combination of efforts between a colorful town in Mexico, and a mountain city in the United States, for both countries’ children. As a teacher, I believe it is a powerful program and proof of a different possibility for collaboration, communication, and sharing.