Notes from the field: One of my favorite photos is of one student Mariama who is one of the shyest girls in the class and who is always present.  I can’t believe that she has stuck with it – many of the exercises we do are beyond her skill to succeed in and do right. Though sometimes she is able to follow along.   It’s painful to watch her hunched over her paper like a bundle of nerves and constantly drawing and erasing what she has drawn before you can even see it.  I think she has so much fear and it’s hard to stop her from erasing.  I fear that when she’s so nervous, she’s not giving herself a chance to observe, think and try and possibly succeed with the exercises.  On the other hand I know she hasn’t been to school, so handling a pencil or a paint brush is awkward.  Something that comes so naturally to most of the world I’m from is a foreign tool for her.  In my experience with other programs the girls like her who don’t have school drop out of the class early – I think they feel too challenged, the learning curve is too high, and they are ostracized for being at the skill level they have by the other students.  Even my assistants will shake their heads and stand over Mariama, emphasizing what a lost cause she is.  This is the photo – where she’s looking less awkward, and holding something she made that is very beautiful and unique.  She looks totally not nervous which is a relief and wonderful to see that side of her.  -Christina

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