|Enthralled by Pitch Perfect on the computer.|
By: Guest photographer Seni
It all started about three weeks ago, when I brought my computer out onto the veranda. I'd just acquired a Brazilian kids show about numbers and letters and counting, and I was excited to show it to the kids. After all, it was the first kid's program that I'd found that was done entirely in Portuguese.
Three of the neighborhood girls were drawing by the porchlight, and I asked them if they wanted to hear a song.
"It's a song about a smelly frog." I said.
"Okay," said the girls. But to my surprise, they didn't even look up from their drawings. I was actually a little disappointed. I had been so sure that it would be a good teaching tool.
"All right," I said. "Here it is. The Smelly Frog."
I tried that song, and then a few others, including ABC, The Little Lying Cockroach, and Mariana Counts to Ten. The girls watched the program warily, but still continued to draw. They really didn't seem that interested. After a couple songs, I gave up and turned the computer off.
"That's all for now," I said. The girls watched me with just one eye apiece, still drawing, drawing, drawing. There was no whine or hint of protest when I switched off the monitor. I brought the laptop back inside.
"They didn't like it," I told Dan incredulously, tucking the laptop into the bed. I was feeling a little put out. "I really can't believe it! Everything is on their level and in a language they can-- sort of-- understand. And it's a movie. But they still didn't like it!"
"I think they just didn't understand it," said Dan. "I bet that they'll warm up to it."
And that's exactly what did happen.
The next day, the three girls were wandering around my yard, humming the songs they'd heard the night before.
"That frog," said Feta, scampering onto the porch. "That dirty frog? Can we watch the dirty frog?"
"Yeah," chimed her friend. "And the baby cockroach that lies. Please!? Please!?"
And so it began. Viewings of Galinha Pintadinha (The Freshly Painted Chicken) became a nightly event at our house, and were attended by increasing numbers of neighborhood children. Within the first few days, there were 36 kids squeezed onto my veranda. They memorized every song.
I thought that it would become stressful as the program grew in popularity, but actually, the kids have been wonderful. They know to come over at 6 o'clock and help me bring the chairs outside. Then, they squeeze in tightly on the straw mat and, with some wiggling and shoving, get comfortably in place.
When I turn on the show, they start to giggle, rock, and sing their little hearts out.
In the past week, at the request of one of the older kids, we've started watching real films. These are all in English, of course, but the kids don't seem to mind. From Wednesday to Friday, we watched Aladdin in three thirty-minute installments. On Saturday, we started watching Pitch Perfect.
As I reach the end of my Peace Corps service, I find myself really branching out. I'm doing things that I was never brave enough to do at the beginning of my service, and I'm glad that I'm doing them now.
If you want to stay in step with me and the kids, try watching the smelly-frog song. The song is in Portuguese, like all of the songs from this particular program, but it's still really cute.
O Sapo Nao Lava o Pe
"The Frog Doesn't Wash his Feet"