Published on 2017-08-03
As many of us learn by the time we reach adulthood life is unpredictable. Sixteen years ago I would have never imagined I would return one day in my beloved high school in Switzerland to teach a doll making class!
Maria and I were invited by Institute Montana Zugerberg to teach a doll-making workshop during its summer session. The two days we spent on the Zugerberg were magical on many levels. They reminded me of my own childhood spent on the mountain, the wonderful teachers and friends I had there. It was a very humbling experience to be on the other side of the teaching bench and I wish I could express my gratitude to my teachers from back then.
My fellow alumna Velia Tricoli manages the Montana summer sessions and she invited us to share our knowledge and experience with the current students. It was our first time giving a workshop for older children and we were not sure what to expect. We wrongly assumed that they would need help on every step and that we would need to simplify the doll making process significantly for them. On the contrary, they were eager to learn every detail and were curious to hear about the philosophy behind the Waldorf dolls. We all agreed that natural dolls feel warmer and more pleasant to hug than plastic dolls.
One of the best things working with children is that they do not shy from voicing their opinions and wishes. Usually we communicate mostly with parents and shop owners and they have different ideals of beauty than the children. For example, parents often buy dolls dressed in pink for their daughters and almost all the girls chose blue dresses for their dolls. Parents also tend to choose dolls that look like their children where as many of the girls designed their dolls looking like their friends. One girl from Shanghai even made her doll look like Velia because she is so friendly and fun. The girls decided to stuff their dolls not so firmly and advised us to make our dolls softer in the future. It is always good to listen to your end customers! As the girls were browsing through our catalogue choosing clothes for their dolls they came up with lots of new design ideas that we would like to incorporate in our coming collection.
We like to think our dolls represent the children of the world and what makes a school like Institute Montana so special is that it gives a chance to real children from all over the world to grow together peacefully and set up the foundation of better world. Our workshop took place in the Felsenegg building of the school, the very same building that during World War Two hid Jewish children in its basement from the Nazis. This brave spirit continues to flow through the ideals that lead the school and are reflected in each and every school activity. With pride I can say I was part and continue to be part of this legacy.
Making dolls for two days with children from different corners of the world did not simply involve sewing and stuffing wool but was rather a process of getting together, acknowledging our differences and similarities and celebrating the universal joy of childhood.
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