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Notes to Self: 6 Ways to be a Better PCV Youth Facilitator

Carissa Anderson, 130 YinD

One day after my second camp of the month, I wrote this on the Notes application on my iPhone while sitting quietly at a table full of teachers. Initially written as a list of camp pros and cons to review with counterparts, it eventually turned into a thoughtful piece on things I’ve found to be helpful and other things I aim to grow better at in the future.

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1. Set up a meeting a day or two beforehand, and explain step by step what each activity is and what is expected of those involved. With a presentation from your computer, you can show them pictures from other camps who have played certain games or examples from YouTube. Give them copies of the slides if they need to prepare anything supplemental.

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2. Rather than count off people to form teams, facilitate a transition game as a way to lead into the team activity. Example: If you need them to be split into teams of four, you can say they have ten seconds to make groups of four people who are all wearing the same color. (Thanks to a fellow PCV who made this suggestion to me at my most recent camp.)

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3. Use songs (Example: Most Thai kids know the “If You’re Happy and You Know It” tune.), the “Clap Once, Clap Twice” chant (“Brop meuh nung krang”), or a number countdown (“5-4-3-2-1”) to quiet kids. Yelling “quiet” or being loud to get their attention is like reprimanding them for showing their enjoyment.

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4. Facilitating with a language barrier is difficult even if you speak that second language well. It is easy to lose focus while giving directions to a counterpart because there are a million things running through your mind. Do your best in explaining with words, hand motions and examples. Even when it seems like they “get it,” have them repeat back what they think you said because oftentimes, we will understand their version of the language more than they understand ours.

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5. Many times children are embarrassed to answer questions with an audience. Create a space where they feel more comfortable. Depending on the situation, you can help facilitate an answer to a question by suggesting ideas or insights of your own. Make a tangible space for kids to write questions that can be answered later.

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6. If you believe things should be a certain way or have things you feel should be brought up, do not be afraid to tell people so (within reason). You are the driver of this wild ride and get to choose what bumps you want to avoid or get air from.

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This job has taught me to believe when it comes to camps and workshops, anything that could go wrong most likely will. It almost always follows this line of logic unfortunately. However, there are those special circumstances where you are in amazement of all the things that came together… and actually worked extremely well.


Read Carissa’s previous articles and contributions.

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