This week PeacePlayers-Cyprus was invited to spend time with campers from the premier performing arts academy in Cyprus: Potenzia del Arte. Potenzia is the creation of Katerina Christofidou, the wife of PPI-Cyprus’ board of directors’ president Akis Christofidou. The academy is a professional training institute in dance, music and theater for individuals of all ages. Throughout the summertime they host week long youth camps, providing kids a taste of the arts offered at the academy.
Over 25 young Cypriots between the ages of 7-12 are participating in this week’s camp. The camp provides the youth an outlet to express themselves creatively and to explore their artistic side. Just as PeacePlayers seeks to promote the transformation of our kids into dynamic well-rounded citizens so does Potenzia. So when the kids are not spending their time dancing, acting or singing, the school is playing host to different youth development organizations. PeacePlayers was honored to be one of these organizations.
Our focus for the session was to create dialogue between the kids regarding other societies and our individual perceptions of different cultures. Of course in a fun and creative fashion! After spending a short time introducing ourselves and PeacePlayers we divided the kids into small groups and handed out markers and poster paper. The assignment was to draw images that to them depicted a particular country. The assigned countries included: Cyprus, Greece, America, France and England. The kids quickly began brainstorming images that came to mind regarding the people and the culture of these countries… “Princesses” shouted one girl whose group had been assigned England… “Hot Dogs” shouted a kid in the American group.
After some intense brainstorming and coloring the kids stood with their groups in the spotlight of the stage and presented to the rest of the room their posters. From the images the kids had to decide which country the group was representing. This proved to be quite an easy task for the kids as the images they chose were quickly identified by the others. The Hot Dog stands and mentioning of Miley Cyrus was undoubtedly American in every sense. Olympic rings and Princesses, yes you guessed it, England. Each group had to sum up what it was that their images depicted and how those images tell a story about that society. It proved to be a game perfectly adapted for such a group, an art project and a chance to take the stage. More importantly though, it also provided a moment for the young kids to begin thinking about how certain images and perceptions of one society don’t fully tell the story of the people from that community. When asked if Henry and Ashley could be described by images of Miley Cyrus and Hot Dogs the kids laughed and began to see the connection.