Reflections of a Budding Food Educator

| May 29, 2013

 

We are so delighted to hear from our Summer Fellow, Amira! A junior majoring in Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University, she is already busy with more kids this week at the Zomppa Summer Break Workshop on Global Citizenship & Food Justice. Check her reflections from her work during the Spring Break Workshop!

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Have you ever walked out of a room feeling completely accomplished? Have you ever had that feeling that you just knew what you wanted to do?

Well I have, and that’s exactly how I felt leaving that little room of children in Durham, NC during Zomppa’s week-long spring break workshop.

Working with Leanne, Belinda, and those 10-12 children was completely and utterly rewarding. Absorbing all of the positive energy from the children and all of the knowledge from Ms. Belinda and Ms. Leanne has truly made me a better person in the field of food education, nutrition and early intervention. Even though I wasn’t able to stay the entire week, I still got a lot out of the time that I was there. The experience was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I am hoping that it is not.

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The way the children responded to Leanne and her teaching style was amazing! She gave each child their deserved respect and listened to every answer and question. Whenever she wanted to test their knowledge or get their opinion on every day rules, she made sure to call on everyone – including those who didn’t have their hands up. In my opinion, acknowledging that each child had something important to say, it made each child more willing to communicate with the adults. This also allowed for an open forum for the children to feel free to speak their minds instead of having their creativity hindered. For example, there was one very shy child who initially clung to Leanne’s every move. Leanne still managed to get the young child, as well as the other children to participate in the numerous activities of the day. Her ‘shadow’ eventually felt more at ease and blossomed into a very active participant in the day’s activities. The child soon became very hard to keep up with.

The excitement she pulled out of every child was quite amazing as well. Most of the children had some type of separation anxiety from their parents.  Being in a new place with new people, the early mornings could have been one of the most difficult parts of the day. But they weren’t.  The workshop room was decorated to foster a sense of comfort-coziness that the children quickly forgot their anxiousness and ran to see all of the interesting things available in the room!

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As soon as you walked in, to your right there was a corner full of pillows and a suitcase full of books, and that’s just where the fun began.  Right next to that was a hydration station (since the daily fun was so energy consuming), an arts and crafts center (stocked full of glue and glitter galore and next to that sat a huge trunk overflowing with any child’s dress-up dreams. As you made a turn past the bathroom, there was our little kitchen. Of course there were none of your average household appliances, but with Leanne and Belinda’s resourcefulness and Zomppa’s approach, those items weren’t needed. Next to the little kitchen was a space on the wall for a projector we used to show different pictures and listen to some classical music during arts and craft time. Our workshop room also contained, on a wall, two maps to teach the children where they were “going” to learn a bit about geography.  Lastly, our room offered the children a building block area for the creative minds to go to when it was quiet time.

There was so much for the children to do all day.

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As for the week’s curriculum, it was well thought out and intriguing. I believe that the little stories that were told, the videos played, the pictures shown, and of course the food created was a magnificent way to reach out to children of that age and help them understand the basics of living healthy. What I mainly liked about the broadness of the subjects was that it didn’t limit the children on what they could learn. For example, one part of the curriculum discussed the Native Americans culture, which discusses food historically associated with Native culture in the United States, but also taught the children something about Native history, lifestyle and language.  I feel it is vital to teach children at a young age not only that eating healthy is essential to a healthy life style, but also that other cultures and perspectives are essential to a more social and just world. That is one of the major concepts I got from the week’s program, and I believe the children understood this point as well.

I’m very glad to have been given the opportunity to work with those intelligent women and brilliant kids.

 

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  1. Beth says:

    What a wonderful workshop! Sound like the kids had a great week – and so did you!

  2. James Holmlund says:

    More power to your arms, Belinda, Leanne and Amira!

  3. Looks like the kids had a great time and enjoyed Leanne’s teaching and company.