Service learning through the performing arts
There’s nothing in the world more exhilarating, more rewarding, more inching towards God’s grace than being in the flow of one’s giftedness. More or less, the place where your natural talents take you define the work one was born to do. It’s that period of time when you enjoy a full meaningful experience, having been so blessed to have had a gift, having had the presence of mind to develop it to the fullest, and having now the opportunity to share it. Amen!
Conversely, when people miss their true calling, they are never truly themselves, nor truly fulfilled having missed the compass to their true destination. As the good book asks: “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” [Matthew 6:25].
It’s been said that the actualised person is the one who – even at the point of death – has no regrets, having emptied out themselves and exhausted their talents on the trajectory of their lives’ mission, with the sole purpose: to enrich other people’s lives.
Service learning through community projects
One of the most sophisticated forms of education takes place through service learning where the youth are encouraged to explore their broad interests and grow their natural talents in the process. The rewarding aspects of it are directly related to community projects where one’s rights and responsibilities are highlighted through a key learning profile in what the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum – for example – defines as Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS).
Educators must now recognize that in the 21st century, regeneration of society involved “meaningful action and purposeful engagement” between “the individual and the local community” to make a difference so as to make the world better a better place than when we found it. Action and engagement – to give of one’s self for the benefit of the larger society – are at the heart of what it means to be human.
The performing arts
Among other feats, Tema International School (TIS) has progressively made a name for itself with its yearly capstone projects in the genre of drama to raise awareness and money to continue the school’s community projects, enriching the lives of underserved and needy children.
In celebrating its 15th year, TIS crowned the anniversary with the staging of the musical, Beauty and the Beast, promoting the theme, “There is beauty in every beast”, at the National Theater, Accra, 23rd November, 2018.
Within the past years, the school staged Ama Ata Aidoo’s Dilemma of a Ghost; Tim Rice’s musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamboat; Mrs Acheampong’s comedy, Dormitory C – The Inspection; the Broadway musical, The Lion King; James Ene Henshaw’s This is our Chance”; Miriam Makeba’s musical, Sarafina; the evolution of music titled, Evolution – A Tale of Fragmented Sounds; and Ben Abdulah’s The Slaves.
In terms of developing individuals’ talents, the school plays – for example – support both the students and teachers to live a life reflecting a core value through the following adage: “Surround yourself with people who push you to do and be better, promoting higher goals and higher motivation, good times and positive energy. No jealousy or hate. Simply bringing out the best in each other.”
Reflecting on the play, the drama teacher and the director, Alfred Elikem Kunutsor, said, “Beauty and the Beast is a call for us to look beyond what we see at face value. TIS is the home where equal opportunities are given to our students to unearth what is hidden within them. We look beyond what we see to nurture the full potential of each learner in making them lifelong learners.”
The co-founder of the school, Mrs Comfort Adjavon noted, “Over the years, we have learnt, we have improved. We have accepted our challenges, embraced them and made them stepping stones to greatness.” The principal, Dr Ken Darvall, reflected, “The time, effort, commitment, enthusiasm and creativity over the past seven months ensure a talented performance is evident throughout.”
A star is born
In any play, we note several things: Notably, does the play continue to hold your interest? Do the actions become more and more stimulating? Are you anxious to follow it to the end? Do the characters continue to remain exciting? Has the theme become clear? Do you wish the play to never end?
For me, perched and enthralled on the front row seat at the theatre – in the glorious company of a key TIS board member, Dr (Mrs) Sylvia Boye – my responses to all the questions were “Yes”. Playing the character of Lumiere, Christal Perdison, for one, shone as brilliantly as the star she was becoming. From the beginning when she uttered the words, “This is the girl”, the spotlight never left her and neither did the enthusiasm that followed her throughout the play.
Besides the natural grace that enhanced her acting so superbly, her agile dance moves could add a tweak or two to enrich Beyoncé and Jay Z for a splendid Hollywood performance. The 11 grader, Christal, gave a most plausible meaning to the biblical words: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” [Matthew 5:16]. The young performer is marked for greatness. Amen!
[The author is a trainer of teachers, a leadership coach, a motivational speaker, and quality education advocate.]