The week itself went very well (except for the connection-problem). We opened at monday the 20th with a lot of press (who where very much in the way while Chris, Ruth and me were sweating it at the computers), the Alderman of Zaandam, Mrs. Schilder and Rabbi Ruben Bar Ephraim. On top of that there were 150 students. It was a bit chaotic, but we managed to go on line briefly and find the right #ZA, because there seems to be two at the moment (due to a net split ?). Chris and Ronald chatted (or tried to, the time-lag was very heavy) for 15 minutes or so. Although it was very brief, it was very nice and exciting to see that lots and lots of people from South Africa and other countries where there, and had been all morning, waiting and worrying about us, and greeting and cheering us when we finally managed to join the Channel. Thanks everybody !!!!!!! You all managed to make our first day to a succes after all !!! For the rest of the day, we did brown eyes, blue eyes with the students and let them do all the activities (the giant board-game, the exhibition, the video, the flag making). For the Internet-part, Chris and Ruth had the students fill out input forms with their messages to South Africa and the rest of the world, to put on the web and the list later on. As we were not on line, we thought this was the best thing to do. You'll find most of the messages in the journal-section.
The rest of the week went more smoothly. We found our routine, and we had some wonderful results with some of the students. Some 30% of each group that goes through the exercise wrote on their evaluation forms things like: "I really felt terrible today because I was treated very badly because of the color of my eyes. If this is what people of color have to endure all their lives because of their skin color, then that is terrible and that should be stopped. I don't know how, but we have to". Or words to that effect.
Tuesday we where in Alkmaar, where we had two classes, 125 students in all. It went okay, the brown-eyed's had fun looking at the blue-eyed's being treated very badly, and the blue-eyed's hated our guts and did all the things we wanted them to. The evaluation that day was one of the best this week. Students really where amazed by the fact that if you treat one group of people badly because of a physical characteristic (eye color) make them uncertain, keep them under pressure constantly, that they live down to your expectations and become what you want them to be. The Brown-eyed's where also very shocked that they really liked to be treated better and began to join the ' blueey-bashing' within a hour.
Wednesday we where in the town of Schagen, where we had the largest group of students up till then. 190 of them, and we had a real hard time, because some of them where skinheads and all of them came to the boat with the attitude 'we are not going to learn anything, we are just going to give these anti-racism idealist a bloody hard time' And they did. During the activities they constantly fooled around. One of the skinheads painted a swastika in the portrait-painting contest and we had to step real hard on him and his friends. We had to use everything we could, everything we have learned from Jane Elliott to get results. That was the day Suzette lost her voice (she found it again the next day :-) ) and most of us ended in the evening with a big headache. The funny thing was that the only thing those students really liked was typing messages for the Internet, and they gave Ruth and Chris no trouble at all, not even the skinheads.
After we where done in Schagen, we had a little nautical adventure. We went on our way to the Island Texel but a small storm overtook us on the way and we had real rough weather for a few hours. Some of us who had never been on a real ship went a bit green in the face and had to keep their eyes on the horizon to keep from losing their lunch.
Compared to Schagen, The Island Texel was a real breeze. We did our program there on Thursday (May 23). We had students from the only school on the Island (60 of them) who were very nice. The Island gets visited by 60.000 tourists from all over the world every year, and those tourists are of all colors. The people of Texel (who call everybody from the mainland 'other siders') say that they 'have no problem with racism' mainly because there are almost no migrants or colored people living on the Island. They only see the tourists, and the tourists of course leave after a time. So there lies 'the rub'. But we managed to get the message across to some of the students anyway. The real laugh was that at the end of the day, they gave us a bottle of the local brew, signed by everyone of them on the wrapping thanking us for 'the nice day'. It was a nice thing to do, especially since we gave the blue-eyed's the standard nasty treatment.
Friday we where in Den Helder. The day went smoothly. We had to put up the big tent on the cay because of rain. The Kuni Kids did a very inspired concert at 12 o'clock with songs like 'what kind of world do you want', I came to dance' and of course 'Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes'. We had some disagreement with one of the teachers who did not like her students 'to be treated like that' and thought what we did was 'all to extreme and unrealistic' She did not want them 'to get hurt'. Half of her students did not agree with her, most of them said that they of course had a shitty day A(especially the blue eyes) , but they had learned something. That's it for week one! Only 4 more to go.......
We like to thank everybody who sent messages to us and Chris and Ruth, they have them by now and we will reply as soon as possible. Chris and Ruth are doing fine, and send greetings to everyone.