LitCamp 2016: Creating Magic through Stories
Report and Post By: Prakriti Nepal
What happens when nearly 100 girls come together for 3 days? You may say some gossip and maybe some laughter. We were going to find out at LitCamp 2016. Earlier this month on August 18th Rukmini foundation in collaboration with our friends and partners at LitWorld and Global GLOW, and through LitClub Nepal organized a three day program for girls to read, write, learn, make friends, and share their stories through art, games, writing and books. 87 girls from 6 different LitClubs and Rukmini Scholars from partner schools came to camp together to enhance their leadership skills, develop new networks, and to better understand their own strengths. This camp was possible thanks to our partner school Shikharapur, which provided us the venue for the camp. As LitWorld says, a safe space is important for girls to open up to show her actual strengths. Rukmini Foundation put up the effort to build up a great space, in Pharping, Nepal in a peaceful area full of natural beauty.
The beauty of this program was only eclipsed by the beauty of the local scenery
The first day of LitCamp started with an introduction of LitCamp 2016, which was then followed by the LitClub Anthem and “Hello” song. As many of the LitCampers were meeting for the first time, we played a game where each girl had to make a friend of the same height and then sing a song welcoming her. This way the girls from the different LitClubs interacted and had a chance to meet new friends. After the introduction and making new friends, we divided up the girls into different groups called “Bunks” to start the main activities for the day. These Bunks read together and shared with each other and their mentors what the meaning was for them. They also created interview questions to ask each other since they may not know everyone in their bunks. The girls came up with very powerful questions that amazed the mentors. For example, some asked “Are your parents happy to have girl child?” While others asked, “How has LitClub help to build up your dreams and how are you enjoying Litclubs?” Being able to ask such questions and sharing with each other showed us that we had created a space where they were free to share their true selves with each other and not afraid to be a little controversial either.
Girls creating interview questions
As reading is a major part of LitCamp, the girls were given some time to choose a book of their choice from the LitLibrary and were taken to a peaceful area to read that book. After the girls read the book, they were given some time to draw or write about their reflections on that book. This exercise is important because it helps them to be analytical about what they are learning rather than just memorizing words. The first day ended with those reflections drawn in heart maps to express their feelings about the first day of LitCamp. Many girls wrote about how much they enjoyed meeting new friends who were like them. The day was full of fun, learning, and reflection. A perfect start to the LitCamp.
Reading in a peaceful environment – such a beautiful scene
The 2nd day started with a morning meditation session to start the day with a peaceful mind. After the meditation, the girls energized themselves by singing read-along songs, which explained that people around the world have different reading techniques and each is to be respected. In the Bunk session, the girls revisited the questions they drafted during the previous interview session and conducted interviews with their friends. They were asking each other about their communities, hobbies, and schools to try to understand each other’s stories. The mentors sat back and observed with delight how much the girls enjoyed interviewing their friends and seeing how curious they were to know about each other. The mentors took the opportunity to conduct a session called “Life Path”.
Discussing the interview questions
Life Path helps to uncover the changes that the each girl has gone through in their lives. They traced their beautiful memories as well as hardships. For the LitClub mentors (Bandana, Sajina, Supriya, Devaki, and Amrita) this exercise gave them a much better understanding of the girls from their LitClubs. It was such a beautiful thing to see how girls can be creative and expressive when they come together.
The final day of LitCamp was focused on the arts, as a way of reflecting on the things that the girls learned during the past 2 days. They did this by creating a reflection box. The idea of the reflection box is to create a box that on the outside shows an expression of how they feel about themselves and on the inside something to indicate their inner feelings. The girls were a little intimidated to make the box because it looked difficult at first, but the girls knew they were in a safe environment where they had support and also because it was going to be a reflection of themselves so they were extra motivated. Girls with patience were expressing their feeling, their thoughts through the box. What made this day extra special was that parents, teachers, and other community members joined the session to see the creations of girls. The girls also sang a song and prepared a dance routine to entertain their guardians and guests. Being able to share this with their family was very special for the girls.
The girls created impressive Reflection Boxes
Shristi Shrestha from Litclub Shikharapur said, ”Being a LitClub member for two years has given me so much strength to be myself and during the two days of LitCamp I understand that it is necessary to be myself and to express myself.” She added that girls are not less than boys, and are just as capable of creating strong bonds when they come together to work for the betterment of society. Alisha from LitClub Niharika shared that Litcamp has helped to make new friends that she may have for a lifetime even though they come from different communities.
Shristi sharing her feelings about LitCamp
Sumina Bist from LitClub Setidevi, stunned everyone when she said, “I come from a government school, and my study habits is different from other girls coming from different types of schools. I was worried that my time in LitCamp would be hard because I was not sure I would be able to adjust with many new people. But, the environment of LitCamp made me feel so comfortable because girls from different communities made me feel like I belong here. Through this I feel I have learned confidence and I promise to do better in the future because of this.” These precious words from each girl is just one of the big achievements of LitCamp 2016.
Dhirani from LitClub Bhaktpur and Jiya from LitClub Shikharapur bonding
After building so many memories filled with love and learning, we decided to end the camp on a sweet note with a cake. LitCamp 2016 was even bigger than last year, and with so many girls able to participate we were all proud of what we achieved in the 3 days. We would like to give many thanks to our host community of Pharping and host school, Shikharapur. Many thanks to all of the mentors and volunteers who worked so hard to make this program a success. None of this would be possible without the support of our friend LitWorld and Global GLOW.
What a magical picture of LitCamp 2016
So, what happens when you bring nearly a hundred girls together for a few days? Empowerment and Magic. They learned to share, to be brave, to be open, to be helpful, and to be committed to improve themselves and their communities. These little girls found that they have big personalities and big dreams, and that they can work together to make those dreams a reality. What a magical few days!