Written by Tomas Prudik, Educational Intern from Prague, Czech Republic
It was an exciting night at Englewood Elementary School as Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville prepare families for the celebration of an annual celebration of Carnival. Mardi Gras, as it’s commonly known in America, has roots in in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. United States of America. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens could not miss this event.
We provided a hands on Mardi Gras mask-making activty for the families.
For me, the name Mardi Gras was unknown, so I had to find some more information about this merrymaking! And finally I knew, that Mardi Gras is basically a Carnival, or in Czech language this is said ‘‘Masopust“ . In our country it means several days of feasting before Ash Wednesday, but Mardi Gras is originaly French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
So, my co-worker Terry and I left after work toward Enlgewood Elementary School at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, February 17th. I was really looking forward to this, because I like going outside the museum, as it is special. You meet many different people and I must comunicate with them. There were more than 200 kids and their parents. I must admit, that helping children solve their problems in creative tasks is an inspiration and fun for me. We enrich each other, basically.
When we drove through the school building, at a distance I saw a woman in a mask and Terry said, ‘‘Tomas her name is Paula. She is my friend,” so we know that we are in the right place. We did not come with our own mask so Paula gave us one to wear. They were really great peices.
Each kid got a passport, which they used at each station that had a different art project. When finished with their creative work, they got a stamp to pass and continue to another station. It was a list of tasks for them and the whole celebration was accompanied by a band from Jamaica.
Another special activity for the children was the ‘‘limbo”, a popular form of dance that originated on the island of Trinidad. The dancer moves to a Caribbean rhythm, then leans backward and dances under a horizontal pole without touching it. If you touch it or fall backwards, you are “out”.
Anyway, I didn’t expect, that the children could visit all nine stations to complete creating all the diffrent projects. The reason was, these tasks were each from 10 to 20 minutes long. But the opposite was true, we had around 240 masks, and we had around 30 pieces left over. Many of the parents deserve great appreciation for their patience.
Music slowly finished and it was time for us to go. It was a very nice experience, but we were both really tired throughout the work week. On Friday evening Terry and I were looking forward to going home.