As this was our last activity ON WHEELS before the final exhibition in Phnom Penh, we felt the need of making a summing up and closure of our trip itself.
This time the first day, besides the guided tour the exhibition, we presented them all the works that we had done with other people in our adventure cycling across the country. We showed them the kind and amount of creative works that we had produced to ask them to tell us water stories in groups, traditional or imagined, in the format that they preferred. We would be there to support them and providing them with materials to develop their ideas.
We were a bit worried. At the beginning, we doubted about if so much freedom would give them wings or, on the contrary, overwhelm them. Anyway, we decided to go ahead with the proposal and trust them. The first day we ended up sat in a circle; nobody spoke, but they crossed sights and whispers… what was going to come out of there was an absolute mystery. The second day, trusting in having set illusion around the project, we prepared tables with plastic and tech materials and we sat down to wait for them. First thing which cheered us up was the participation. All of the students came back and some of them had even brought friends with them to join the activity (we thought that this, in a voluntary activity, was already a signal of success). The groups that were drafting yesterday, today were defined and they knew exactly what they wanted to do: stories using drawings without words, also using drawings with words, in a traditional way, with videos and photographs… The children who seemed shy and not so active yesterday, today (and the rest of the week) were young people with clear ideas about what and how to do what they wanted to.
The work in the groups showed diverse ways: in some of them, everybody drew, in others, some would think about the ideas and others would put them in paper…. They mixed techniques and materials without fear, even some groups developed more than one project, or wanted to include images not related to their stories just because they felt like creating them, but afterwards they didn’t fit in the plot.
They were very prolific and, in general, showed great skills managing their time, they worked from the first to the last day with concentration and method, but not stopping having fun at the same time. Laughs were frequent among the tables, which passed from silence to excited chats in secs. They happened to be a very mature group (most of them were fourteen or fifteen years old) and it was great to work with all and each of them.
Short film productions
The Director of the Provincial Department of Education of Ratanakiri, the Director of the Provincial Department of CUlture and Fine Arts of Ratanakiri, the Director of Somdach Ou Somdach Me High School of Ratanakiri and their teams. In special, we’d like to say a big thank you to Chieng, the teacher who assisted us with the translation and management of the workshops, who gave us the best feedback that we could ever expect, when the last day he told us that, when we proposed the workshop, he never thought that his students could be so creative, as he was very sceptic about the eventual creation of high quality artworks; he was very surprised to see the skills that the students had shown when producing the different artistic creations and he was so glad to see how talented and smart his students were. Even he himself participated doing some drawings to contribute in the global dialogue on water.