Home Again

I’m back from my travels now and it’s taken me a little while to get recollect myself.  I never seem to understand what the traveling has meant until I’ve been home for a week or two, and this has proved truer than usual after my back-to-back trips.

I was in New York first, visiting friends and going to my Vassar Reunion, then upstate to Sarah Lawrence to speak at the Play’s the Thing Conference.  After that I flew back to London.  I had about 18 hours to dump out my backpack and refill it for a week in the Gambia, where I joined a group of playworkers and set about rebuilding a nursery and doing playwork in a community an hour outside of Banjul.

So, in a single vacation that made me sound far more jet set than I normally do, I enjoyed the nostalgia of formative theoretical debates, visited a thriving space for new discussion on play, and involved myself in a community that was wholly new to me, with issues and opportunities all its own.

In short, I was reminded of social concerns identified and addressed by one community:

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And introduced to those of another:

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This is the nursery school that we were helping to rebuild, closed since its roof fell in more than two years ago.

And here are some of the children who came along to help us, play with us, and see what we were all about:

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There’s a lot more to come as I go through my notes and journal entries – both from the Gambia and from my time at Sarah Lawrence and their amazing Child Development Institute and Early Childhood Center.  My workshop was on the history and practice of playwork, sparking some interesting conversations on what the future of something similar might be in America and making me think critically about some of the directions we’ve taken in the UK.

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