Will you take the risk?

By Vita Forest

Lots of good things happened this week.  This is one of them.

Our final dress rehearsal before the audition for a big interschool production was scheduled for Thursday.  On Tuesday we discovered that one of the key players – the girl who was going to read the introduction explaining our piece to the audition panel, was away on holidays and would only arrive back at school next Monday – the day of the audition.  My teaching buddy and I discussed who we could get to fill in for this girl, someone who was in the performance and who hadn’t already got a “special job”.

I thought of Ivan, a Year 6 boy who I had watched run a Peer Support Group.  He had been friendly, firm and had handled the younger kids well.  (Besides this, he seemed to possess a strong, expressive voice that could be clearly heard across the room).  Neither my buddy or I particularly knew Ivan, but we knew he was a nice kid who always tried his best.  He seemed like a good place to start.

I approached Ivan on Tuesday lunchtime carrying the script in my hand, and asked if he would like the job of filling in for the absent girl, with the slight possibility of having to read it for the actual audition.

Ivan wasn’t sure.

I was a bit disconcerted.  I hadn’t expected this.

I explained that I thought he could do a really good job so why didn’t he take the script and look it over?  If he really didn’t want to do it, we would find someone else.  He reluctantly agreed.

The next day I mentioned this encounter to one of the Year 6 teachers.  She stared at me in alarm and told me a different story about Ivan.

Apparently he was prone to anxiety.

Apparently he was not very confident.

Apparently he could get a bit tearful sometimes.

Oh.  No.

Maybe we should have gone with one of the school leaders who speak at every assembly.  Perhaps we should have chosen someone on the Debating team.  But I had wanted to give someone different a chance.  Was this going to be a mistake?

Thursday was the day of the dress rehearsal.  Feeling increasingly worried that I had caused Ivan some major stress, I sought him out at recess time.

Was he ok to read the script in front of everyone?

Yes, he told me.  He had been practising.  He would do it.

After lunch, the kids changed into their costumes and got into their starting positions.  Ivan stepped forward with his script and…

Absolutely nailed it!

He spoke confidently, clearly and with excellent expression.  I gave him the thumbs up.

The principal went and got us “an audience” of five classes of various ages from across the school.  Ivan would now have to speak in front of over one hundred people.

Again he did a fantastic job.  We continued on with the rehearsal.

Later Ivan told me – public speaking really scares him as he sometimes stutters!

The next day I found his teacher and was telling him the story.  I was in the middle of the story -telling him how I had decided to choose Ivan and give him a go.  He too, like the other Year 6 teacher, immediately looked worried and started to tell me he didn’t know whether Ivan would be a good choice – he didn’t know it had already happened!  I told him how great Ivan had been.  I told him how I hadn’t known Ivan had a stutter.  His teacher was thrilled to hear of his success.

I love these times when a kid steps up, takes a risk and really shines.  I hope Ivan will always remember how brave he was that day.  I hope he will recall how despite feeling terrified, he was able to accomplish something wonderful.  I hope it gives him confidence.

Sometimes we go to school to teach the kids.  Sometimes we get taught by them.


Modern-day Artisans

By Vita Forest

The Finders Keepers market, Sydney

The Finders Keepers market, Sydney

Last night I met Saskia at the Finders Keepers market at the Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh.  As you can see from the photo above, it is a huge, atmospheric venue in what used to be the Eveleigh Railway Workshops.  We were there to support our buddy Andrew of Barocky Chocky fame, and join the hipsters and craft aficionados for an evening of food, fashion and fine objects.

I love going to craft markets (and this is one of the best), I love “meeting the makers” and hearing about their process and inspiration.  I like seeing women pulling on beautiful silk garments and swishing about in front of the mirror tilted toward them by a stallholder.  I like seeing people picking up a well-made pottery vessel and cupping it in their hands, luxuriating in the heft of it, imagining it holding their morning coffee.  I enjoy listening to the wistful story of the broken heart behind the story of the stripey street cat from not quite newtown, and finding out what in heck raw LUXE’s Fenty Diamonds are made from (Answer – marbled concrete, sanded on the edges).  I am completely partial to the whole idea of modern-day artisans, selling their wares.

Andrew of Barocky Chocky

Andrew of Barocky Chocky

Andrew, of Barocky Chocky, is a very clever fellow who makes wonderful paper goods – cards, books and posters.  He is constantly coming up with new ideas with witty labels (Creepy Dollies and Mannequins, Substations of Sydney and of course, the classic Eurowankers Puzzle book).  My new favourite is the Ferries of Sydney poster, a nostalgic arrangement of Sydney ferries streaking about on a happy blue background, all contained within a jaunty rope border.  Though the Beloved Dogs of the World series is also gorgeous…

More fine paper goods from Barocky Chocky

I have one of those fab Things you might see in the NSW and ACT posters.

We meandered up and down the corridors of stalls, dipping in and out as something caught our fancy.  Some visitors carried glasses of wine to sip as they strolled, while others toted a large collection of bags holding their treasures.  (Speaking of bags, at Barocky Chocky a special stamp had been purchased and carefully inked and stamped on strong, brown paper bags.  These had been hung out to dry on a clothesline at the parents-in-laws’ place).  Everyone you passed sparkled a little, with happiness, of course, and also when the shining gold sticker that indicated you had paid the $2 entry fee, caught the light.

It was a hot day yesterday, but at some point during the evening, the doors at each end of the hall were opened to the elements, and a cooling breeze swept through.  You could almost hear everyone sigh with pleasure.  Previously, metal pedestal fans did their best to move the hot air around, with some shoppers fashioning their own fans out of folded paper.

At 9.45pm, they announced the market would be closing at 10, which caused a mild state of panic in many shoppers.  Ear-marked treasures were hurriedly purchased before everyone was ushered out into the cool night air.

It’s on again tomorrow – you should go!