By Corinne Marcoux
Happy pants (adj.+ N): I. Loose, one-size-fits-all pants made of the colorful Malawian fabrics; II. Pants that bring joy and happiness to the person wearing them and the people around; III. Piece of clothing that has the power to make the person wearing it believe in what he/she does or can do.
Is there any need to say that I was feeling really happy and feeling on top of the world today? I had my happy pants on.
I was feeling the power of happy pants since I bought them in Cape Maclear on Sunday, but their magic really started influencing our lives as soon as I jumped into them this morning. In fact, I did not have to worry about what to wear for the day—happy pants and t-shirt and here you go. (This made me super happy, considering that choosing clothes in the morning often causes me unnecessary anxiety.) Also, Naomi`s breakfast smiled at her; the two donuts and the banana in her plate were forming a smiley face.
On top of these multiple joyful events, we were lucky enough to enjoy a story from Dr. Stonebanks when we got to our happy room at the Chilanga secondary school (for work purposes). It was the story of a development project: an experiential elementary school (Praxis Malawi, of course!). It is not sure yet if the classroom will be ready for September or not. It all depends on the main character of the story, the community. The community members are the only ones who can make the school project work in a sustainable way. The effort must come from them in order to create independence for the future. Giving more money than needed will not help in reaching the common goal of development. The moral of the story is thus that people tend to aim for a tangible product so that they have the satisfying impression that something has been done, and that we have to resist and focus on our work. Although invisible, curriculum development is really what is going to make a difference, probably more than the building of the classroom itself. So this is when happy pants come into play; wearing them helps us keep going and believing in the potential of what we do.
The rest of the day went wonderfully! We worked productively on creating the units—I worked on the Seasons and the My Senses ones. It all was positive, except at that moment when I felt that I did not have enough hours in the day to do everything that I wish to do… So I did what I now do when I feel a little worried: I go talk to Barbara. Indeed, her answer made me feel very happy again! She suggested to me to do a little bit of everything, and this is exactly what I did. With the help of happy pants, I found the time to play Bowa with Ruth (one of my Malawian friends in the village) and Amy. The pants gave me the force to believe in all the things that I could do to make me feel happy.
All to say that happy pants are indeed truly powerful because they make me realize that all the happiness and confidence they bring actually come from the person wearing them and believing a little more than usual in what she can achieve. We are building a pedagogy of hope. There is so much more we can do when we believe. Viva happy pants!