July 8, 2014
From June 16 to July 3, we had the honor to work at a summer camp at one of the best schools of Sochi. This is our third summer with the children of this school, traveling to Narnia. It was exciting to see how they grew and changed. These students are real Narnians. We have just developed a new program based on the film and the book "Prince Caspian". The Program consists of nine meetings-lessons. We talked a lot about Jack Lewis, his life, family, and how the events of his life affected his work. We discussed about what we can learn through a particular story, we studied unfamiliar words, learned to read between the lines.
I want to say thank you to the children. You, guys, often teach us a lot. Unfortunately, there was so much stuff they said (great ideas and thoughts) we were not able to remember or record. We decided to collect memorable sayings and to share with our readers. Here's a few.
We discussed the dialogue between Aslan and Lucy:
«Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you're bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.»
We asked the students what did Aslan mean?
Diana, 10: "Because Aslan often said strange things, so when Lucy will grow, she will begin to understand what Aslan had said. Then it means he will grow along with Lucy".
Why Lucy immediately saw Aslan, and other children not?
Nastya, 10: "Lucy always remembered and thought of Aslan and the other kids - not".
Anya, 11: "She lived by faith".
Caspian, centaur, badger and other heroes were called to do some important and good thing. How about you?
Sonia, 10: "At the moment, we are to learn and to please our parents".
Why do you think C.S. Lewis wrote a book for children?
Anna, 11: "Because children have a lot to learn".
Sonia, 10: "Children love fairy tales, but basically I think that this book is for adults".
Nastya, 12: "So they would have something to do and not just "sit in" Ipad or Iphone".
«SPRING» Children's Rehabilitation Center 2013
We normally conduct our Narnian classes in the assembly hall of the center. Before each meeting we were met by a 9 -year-old pupil named Lera, who became a fan of Narnia. Lera has a younger sister, both girls were desperate to see their mother. They stayed at the center for almost a year because of the difficult living conditions, even though their mother is not deprived of parental rights. The staff of the Center had sent the girls home, but because of the lack of in-house electricity and heating they had to return the girls to the Center. Throughout all of the lessons Lera and her sister Sasha were the most active. Lera was so eager to receive the complete Narnia book and was so upset every time she was not able to collect enough award cards to get the book, but she jumped for joy after she eventually received it.
There are over 20 children of different ages in RODNIK. From the very beginning the children showed a keen interest towards the theme of Narnia. During the introduction of the awards everybody was excited and looking forward to receiving the main prize – the complete book of Narnia – all 7 stories.
Children's reactions to the "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" film was various. Some watched very intensely, others shouted out some witty comments. One boy was joking about the first two lessons and called Edmund "a boy Friday", and during the last and the most intense fragment of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie, concentrated so much he was biting his nails.
It was the story of the murder of Aslan. The girls were choking back their tears.
During the Quiz on the film the kids were a little worried, because everyone wanted to get prizes. One boy took a very skeptical view of that, but the first impression was misleading. In next lesson, he actively answered the questions and he won the main award – the Book. Another boy called it “unfair” when we exposed his dishonesty – trading cards from the other kids. But the majority were always happy.
During one of the sessions most of the children were very eager to play as storytellers and tell a story by the colored book (handmade wordless book, consisting of six color pages, symbolizing the main events of the book). Even 7-8 year-old children, bravely volunteered before the older students could, to tell "The Chronicles of Narnia" History with the help of the Wordless Book.
The real lover of Narnia was a girl named Julia, 15. The girl’s life is full of sorrow. Her mother abandoned her when she was very young. Different families tried to adopt her 3 times and sent her back to this Center after a couple of months. Finally she was sent to an orphanage in Krasnodar Region.
We taught a special lesson about courage with serious information about WWII. A boy named Grisha happened to be pretty knowledgeable on the subject. Children were shocked as we told them about Hitler’s mass extermination of people and about individuals who risked their lives to save the persecuted. We told them about Corrie Ten Boom and her family, that their faith in Christ motivated them to save Jews. When we told them about Jewish ghettoes in Europe, they compared them with their Center immediately.
Children often made us surprised. For example; when it required mental strain, analysis and synthesis, they showed unexpected tenacity, passion and they had a lot of fun from completed tasks. Many of them were really surprised to discover that John Tolkien did not write "War and Peace" but he rather wrote "The Lord of the Rings." Many gave a deep and comprehensive answers to such ambiguous questions like "Why the Witch ordered to cut Aslan’s mane?"
The kids loved the game to distribute household items in the houses of some Narnian characters: such as; in Mr. Tumnus’ cave and Beavers’ hut. One girl said that Mr. Tumnus’ cave reminded her of an Italian pizzeria. Tumnus was a sophisticated, intelligent creature, while Beavers were farmers. Children felt the difference and quickly guessed whose was a vintage china cupboard or a shovel. They enjoyed a very difficult game to guess a character according to 4 attributes as they did a lot of brain storming. Kids loved to study the origin of revenge. Detailed analysis of the alleged thoughts and feelings of Edmund, led the boys to the conclusion that revenge begins with resentment, and just one act of Edmund could make not only his family suffer, but the whole country of Narnia. When
Edmund was forgiven everything changed. "When people get united, it becomes easier to fight against the evil" – was a conclusion of a teenage girl.
What could Aslan speak with Edmund about? That is the question! "The fact that Edmund was talking to a lion, could only happen a fantasy world". However, the assumptions were set and they were pretty
We brought a big puppet lion to one of the lessons.
Children immediately loved him and everyone would come to give a hug and pet this Aslan, a gift from a 90 year old retired teacher from Tacoma.
Two girls named Vika and Evdokia read their fanfics. They made up new characters – one was Aslan’s daughter and another was Lucy’s son; their plots were captivating. Young and talented writers were highly appraised.
Another time we studied the subject on how could the situations from the Narnians’ lives impact and form their characters. For example, what kind of person was Peter in the beginning of the book and what happened to him to turn him into a hero? The same with the rest of the Pevensie children. Here children were very active and emotional – they were captivated by the Narnia story.
We played a game called «Guess a character trait» - everyone played, even those who could not read. It was not easy for a 5 year old boy to explain such terms as “diligence” the way that the rest of the group could guess what was it. Yet everybody worked hard.
10-year-old Denis got the big book, the complete Chronicles of Narnia, for being active, and his reaction exceeded all expectations. He rushed to get
the book, hopping, with a face as if he won the lottery, not less than a million. That was the best reward ever!
The Director of the center is a very friendly woman; she really cares about those children and she likes our program.
JOURNEY THROUGH NARNIA travels around the world
The goal of "Bridge to Narnia" is to build "bridges", so a child could enter the magical world of Narnia. No matter where the child lives in Russia or overseas; if they have a happy family or not. Every boy and every girl can get into the wonderful world of Lewis and we try to do this not only by applying their own efforts, but also helping others to become "bridge builders."
Our partners serve the children not only in Russia but also in other countries. The "Journey to Narnia" found a positive response. We conducted training (it is a prerequisite) for staff and volunteers of an international organization that works with refugee children from Asia. For certain reasons, we do not specify the names of the volunteers, neither the name of the organization and the country.
For my work with children from Russian-speaking refugee families in one of the European countries, the Journey Through Narnia program fits perfectly. Those families do not accept any teaching that contradicts the truths of their religion. "The Chronicles of Narnia" did not cause any suspicion or discomfort.
The first part of the program became a real challenge for me and my colleagues. One of the reasons – first, Russian is not native for these children, and since they live outside Russia, they lost a lot of their Russian language. But on the other hand, this same problem was a good reason why these children joined the Journey - to support their Russian language. Sometimes their parents helped us with translation. It must have been difficult for children - they had to think, try to remember some details, make up their own version of events. But our reward cards always encouraged them to fight for the best answer. Sometimes it seemed to us that we were pushing hard a stubborn wagon. Working with those kids I realized that for most of them it was their first experience when someone asks their opinions or ideas. In the beginning of our Journey the best they could do was to answer a simple question. I was a little nervous that children did not quite understand me. But then, seeing their enthusiasm and joy I got excited – the most important was they could share and speak. That was a big step.
Environment those children live, does not involve the process of reflection and analysis. Information is taken for granted, on the basis of respect for the older person who sends it. So I was so excited to see the kids could express what they think and analyze. Sometimes, it seemed, we literally heard gurgles and creaks thought process. And we were rewarded by the questions and responses at the end of the Journey, we have found out that they remember everything.
The second part of the program (camp) was a bright Festival. The teams fought for the right to become a winner! And sometimes they literally fought (oops!), and we had to find ways for reconciliation. But through the Narnia story they could see they were in a similar situation and their real “enemy” was the White Witch and Aslan would die to save them. And the best time was when we heard kids admit their wrong. Surprisingly, the kids responded immediately and we were amazed at how quickly they responded and corrected their mistakes.
No doubt, these refugee children would never forget their adventure in Narnia, full of joy and light. For their parents the Journey was a very special time they could spend with their children. Some parents helped us so much with our work. When I met with the children after the program, they always began to sing Narnian songs and asked: "When are we going to Narnia again?"