Finding their voices
Jessica Alyea | Hungary
Jessica Alyea (USA) joined OM Hungary in 2016 as field communications facilitator, as well as assisting with sports ministry and youth outreaches. Here she shares about seeing children transformed during a week of drama camp in summer 2017.
By the end of the week, I was exhausted. My voice was creaking like a rusty old bicycle. The drama camp had gone on for seven days, nine hours a day in the July heat. But as the 24 Hungarian kids from ages nine to 16 took their final bows at the end of a musical they had learnt – in English – in just a week, I was fiercely, hug-the-daylights-out-of-them proud.
My fellow OMer, Rebecca Lingenhoel, who serves as a music teacher at the international Christian school near our OM Hungary office, led this summer camp outreach in partnership with her school. Having spent the last 25 years in mission service with OM in Hungary, Rebecca knows what speaks to Hungarian youth and has a passion to reach out to families in the community. She has held this drama camp a few times before as a chance for students to practise their English and try something different, so I was excited when she asked if I could help with this year’s performance of a 35-minute, simplified version of Disney’s Aladdin Kids.
Shine a light into Hungary’s education culture and you will still find shadows of shame-based, communistic approaches to learning, featuring much strict memorisation and a narrow focus of activities. Most Hungarian kids do not get the chance to perform something like this unless they attend a music or theatre focused school. And confidence is something that, from what I have seen in my year in the country, Hungarian children generally lack.
But give them the opportunity to sing onstage, perform choreographed dances and lifts, manage props and the curtain or create an artistic logo for the show – all in their second language – and these kids rise to the occasion. With some encouragement, they find their voices.
There was Jacint, who on Monday said he did not like, and did not want to learn, the choreography or music, but by the performance for family members and friends on Saturday was doing a cool dance in a small group using blacklights. There was Domi, who on Wednesday wanted to quit, but found enthusiasm again after finding joy in stage managing. We constantly had to keep an eye on Tibi, who liked talking to his fellows a little too much, but whose beautiful singing voice rang out in a solo during the performance.
The week was a whirl of high-energy games, goofy characterisation and vocal exercises, lively musical numbers and brightly colored costumes that concluded with the group’s satisfaction of seeing something through from start to finish. Shyness and insecurity were overcome; families were brought together to see talents uncovered and displayed for the first time. We shared testimonies and prayers with the group, but mainly we had the chance to share the delight of God seeing His children use the gifts He gave them.
Published: Monday, 06 November 2017
Credit: Jessica Alyea