There’s a 1st time for everything. This is a story about my first time being a Project Coordinator with TBPelangi. 1st time developing a child friendly library. 1st time exploring a completely new world in which i have zero to none experience but full on passion as my supply & i was all game. My first project was a collaboration library between Semesta & TBPelangi in Satar Padut village, Lamba Leda, East Manggarai. Me & Ebi, another Project Coordinator whose- big wide stinky with experiences -shoes i was about to fill were assigned to SDI Wae Ciu. We were to have the library up & running within a month. “This should be FUN!”, i thought.
Our homework for the first week was to connect with the school’s faculty, the parents, the committee & the most fun of them all; kids. Our eagerness were met with enthusiastic faces, warmth & excited energy. The school & parents were cooperative that soon fund to cover extra renovation was collected. The kids on the other hand injected us with spirited greetings, giggles, curious eyes & even bigger excitement every time they saw us coming to school. We’ve developed not just partnership but also friendship with the community. If i ever was anxious about being a newbie, it was gone within our 1st few days.
Next on the list was to give training & knowledge on Child Friendly Library plus how to run & maintain it’s sustainability to the school’s faculty. This crucial part had me nervous for days on end for i was to provide them with just as much knowledge as i had recently learnt myself. I was overwhelmed with questions like, “How am i going to pass this abundance of materials? How am i capable of facilitating a group of way older people about child friendliness when they’ve been dealing with kids for longer than my professional years? How am i going to cope with questions ? Wait i’ve got Ebi to cover for that. Ha-ha!” Panicking never helps. So i snoozed my adult mode, went playing & goofing off with the kids. The interaction reminded me that i just need to enjoy it, have fun in learning & sharing. At the end of the day grown ups were once kids too & what we were going to share was a load of fun activities designed by the once were kids to let kids be kids while they grow to love literature. Keep it playful & that we did. Everyone had their share of playful learning out of the 3 days workshop.
After preparing the faculty, it was time to tidy up & color up the library room. This, was my favorite part for drawing has always been a playground to me. Equipped with brushes, paint buckets, lines & colors in hand, soon i was lost in the world of pastel hues. Until Ebi called me back to earth & asked me to share the experience with the kids whose curious faces were all sticking in from the window frames. Mixing paints & watching colors turn to another were alien kind of entertainment to them. Try imagine how excited they got when we let them painted the room with us. Cute little riot happened every time, but then again it was a playful learning both to them & to me as a 1st time art teacher plus kids supervisor. It was a great coloring week with the kids and the teachers, even Ebi had his fun painting the library, it was his 1st time playing with color mixing as well.
Once the library had been set up to meet it’s child friendliness standard, it was time to fill it with books. All 1.500 of them. We had to unbox them then assigned each title to certain level based on their reading complexity to later be manually catalogued and then set up on shelves . Was it overwhelming? Definitely yes, but by this point i knew better how to handle it. I made myself a mental note saying, “Things that overwhelms you also brings you new set of skill, so embrace the unknown.” With Ebi guidance & the assistance from the highly motivated teachers plus the endless tempation to play coming from the kids, we managed to cover this book leveling & shelving part within 3 days. Yeay us!
Celebration day finally arrived (supposedly referred to as Library Opening Day, but to me, it will always be a celebration moment). The school had prepared the kids with songs & dances, the parents had been gathered to enjoy the day, the sponsors & Jakarta team had all flown in, & both project coordinators were feeling bittersweet, this library opening also meant the closing to our playtime with kids at SDI Wae Ciu. It was a simple yet memorable celebration. The faculty looked proud to present their new library, the parents kept beaming at us with grateful smiles & contentment, the acknowledgement speeches were sincere & moving. The kids? Thrice as energized as ever but when we let them in the library to read together for the 1st time they were all obedient. Once they started reading the books, their noise turn into a lovely sea of whispers. It was their 1st ever library interaction & they seemed to be lost among the book pages. I throw Ebi an ear to ear smile & he smiled back even wider. TBPelangi 59th library opening in Sdi Wae Ciu was a celebration of my 1st ever child friendly library & Ebi’s last with TBPelangi. Although it was his last, he confessed to still learning new stuff on the process. As for me, i was only beginning to learn & already gained a truck load of fun things to be shared. Cheers to being 1st timers & embracing new experiences. Cheers to playful learning at the library, at home, well anywhere & at any age. 🙂