Foldscope activity challenge Day 3

Feb 11th, 17:00 / First street tour to find kids playing around. Some drama happened as well because of misunderstanding by a lady who thought kids should not stand with strangers, which is right -Read the story at the end-. My teenage cousin was with me that day to help take some good pictures along his younger brother “Mustafa” -who hit his head on the first day in the kids fair-.

Like previous day, there was new group of kids playing football, I tried to open conversation and make them feel safe listening to me. I would not say I could catch their attention quickly because it’s not something I did before to pop-up and borrow people’s attention and make them listen to me.
So this is one of the main things I needed to develop asap so I do not feel down or rejected when I approach kids when they do not show interest as much due to fear of stranger or lack of trust.

1st stop. (Football Match)

2nd stop. I approached group washing their with their uncle.

3rd stop. (Kids playing Marbles) and story time with some drama.

Activity Review & Lessons

  • Make the starter relevant and friendly opening by connecting it somewhere they know already.
  • Catch their attention and make them feel safe. Let them come to you out of curiosity not step back for being afraid of unknown.
  • Ask for their families permission.
  • Shop idea. (Use mini-markets as place to do the activity where kids will come to buy snacks and do some science).
  • Handle misunderstanding situations by calmness and wisely.

Story Time

I was showing kids Foldscope and explaining to them what is microscope and making awareness about personal hygiene.

Suddenly a woman -who knows the kids- started to talk loudly with the kids why they’re talking to stranger “meaning me”. She tried to move them away from me and didn’t even turn to speak to me that’s how afraid she was and concerned about the neighbor kids.
I tried to talk to her but she didn’t stop to listen to me or ask what’s happening first.

Few other kids who I met before stayed where I was but the new ones who I just met ran away after that.

There I stopped for one or 2 minutes then I decided to clear the misunderstanding in anyway possible otherwise I knew she may tell other neighbors and the false word will spread. I saw she was talking to her neighbor next to her house, a tired man who looked just came from hard physical building work probably, about what I was doing lol.

I decided to talk to him and make her listen to me indirectly so I approached the man and started to explain what I was doing and what I am up to and mentioned the madam next to him misunderstood me and I would like to clean any false assumptions she had. After proper explanation she apologized and she thought I was doing something bad.

Personal Feelings and Emotions.

Immediately after that incident on my I was feeling I shouldn’t do activity again in streets because before I had never any problems when I did in the parks or schools but then I thought maybe I should do these activities more in street and this is what exactly need to be done to perception change and create positive impact because this way have more effect on people both adults and kids who are on site of event.

I was understanding their reactions because it’s not casual thing to see and its weird as people are afraid because of various reasons -country condition- so I do give them right to react how they did. In a similar situation probably I would react empathetically at first glance, if I see a stranger unexpectedly talking to my brother.
I am glad I was able to handle the situation peacefully, calmness and with a wise approach.

Back home I called my friend from London to share the story, the reaction I got was kind of similar to the lady “empathetic thinking” -who tried to save the kids from someone stranger- but opposing side as I shouldn’t do these activities maybe in streets for my safety reasons and not be alone as people may do something or things may not end well, instead I should go to parks and do there.

The message I am trying to convey here is I realized no matter where people are living London or Iraq people have many similarities and differences but the question is “how can we bridge the gap between our:
1- Fears and hopes.
2- Having good intentions verses actually working to make an active change for the better.
Overall, we should try to understand each other and understand twice we all need each other to keep surviving in best possible way on earth until our time comes!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    This has to be one of the most gripping series of writing I have read. Keep it coming Mohamad. Really love your observations about group dynamics and experiences and love the pictures of curious kids waiting to be surprised.

    1. Mohamad says:

      Dear Laksiyer,
      Thanks for your encouraging comment and thoughts about this work. I am new about these things you mentioned so if you have any suggestions would like to hear from you.

      Glad you enjoying the pics and overall day to day activity.

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    Dear Mohammad

    What a fantastic documentation – of science and it’s role to bring people together. Documenting our own hesitation in these interactions, where science belongs (on the streets and on football pitches) and the while interaction of science and society – is exactly the right kind of exploration. So much to digest in terms of human behavior, sense of curiosity and science.

    Keep documenting these – you are inspiring many others to bring science into everyday life. 10 years from now – doing science experiments on the street will be the norm!!

    Sharing my admiration and love for your efforts.. keep going.


    1. Mohamad says:

      Dear Manu,

      Happy to read your comment about this work. This note and others encouragements made me more fulfilled as personal outcome of this challenge.
      Thanks for validation to my approach. I did not have specific method or way of exploration. I was just trying to be flexible and make the work as easy and less complicated as possible for myself without much buzz of logistics and planning. So I would say for me taking this step to bring science to street in this kind was more like unplanned by “me”.
      As regarding documentation I am sharing honestly what I went through, I am trying to organize my thoughts like story telling. Both the approach and documenting this, is something relatively new for me so I am looking forward any useful suggestions if you have.

      Indeed so much to digest and reflect on, just this small experience taught me way more than I imagined.
      Kids are ready to make that norm because many of them told me/asked me why there are not people doing this kind of work. So I think it looks way more possible than we think but its going to take some time. I guess it needs nothing else than just showing up!

      Looking forward building that norm all together inshallah.
      Bests and much appreciation for your supportive spirit.
      Sending lots of love and respect to you.

      Take care.

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