Harrison Kramer knows about magic tricks. He has a magic wand and make things disappear. He puts a love spell on people and make them happy. You see – he is a magician! He is the owner of “After School Magic”, a performing arts company located in Manhattan, NY. “After School Magic” provides a wide array of entertainment, enrichment, and hands on educational services. Harrison is an expert communicator and has facilitated over 1000 performances and educational workshops at different venues ranging from schools and weddings to refugee camps and pediatric ICUs.
SN had the chance to meet him during the summer and enjoy his volunteer work in its Northern Greece office where he performed and taught his art!
During his stay in Greece Harrison kept a journal, where he wrote down his experiences and his secret magic tricks. Harrison wanted to share them with us.
If you don’t believe in magic, be prepared to embrace them after your read the following.
Relax and let the magic enchant you!
Harrison visited on 30 June SolidarityNow’s Blue Refugee Center where he gave a magic and juggling performance and conducted a workshop for kids and teens. It seems that our young beneficiaries love magic as they were eager and enthusiast in learning the easy yet baffling magic tricks. Harrison taught them: balloon balancing, the ball and the vase trick, how to do a mind reading trick and the plate spinning. Later they chatted with Harrison about how magic tricks can be done with mainstream materials and about the importance of concentration during practice to achieve successful skill development. “For me the most rewarding thing was to see the kids coming up with their own ideas as well as how the more distant participants became more active and excited throughout the program” writes Harrison on his notebook.
7/3/17 Sindos Shelter
With the help of a skilled interpreter and a dedicated volunteer, Harrison performed in front a group of 16 children. They started with a series of magic and juggling tricks. Juggling had the greatest impact to the kids as it was more easily perceived by the them. After the performance, the kids where excited to learn more about magic and tricks. They sat together shaping a big circle and they successfully performed various tricks. “When I asked who wanted to try pretty much everyone raised their hand. It was wonderful to see” writes Harrison. “This was the perfect storm for me. When I envisioned this project, it looked almost exactly like this. The “After School Magic” philosophy is to facilitate creative enrichment through skill building and encouragement, which may ultimately lead to a child’s physical and psychological empowerment. Today I think we accomplished a wonderful thing” writes Harrison.
7/4/2017 Drama Refugee Camp
“After School Magic” visited Drama Refugee Camp. A large group of people -around 70- gathered to see his magic and juggling show. The kids got very excited. “While I am still learning to adapt my performance to these new environments, today was maybe the best show I have put so far” writes Harrison on his notebook. Before proceeding with the workshop, Harrison let the kids to explore and play with his magic equipment. Then he shown them ball balancing, plate spinning and how to use devil sticks. NGOs staff was also there playing with the children and helping Harrison. When the show ended, some of the children dispersed and those who were left continued to play with each other. “While I did not get to teach much magic, which in my opinion is one of the best aspects of the “After School Magic” programs, I think the children really did enjoy and even benefited from our efforts. Before leaving we donated a small batch of equipment to the camp to be kept in the staff office for future use. During the two-hour drive, back to Thessaloniki my two incredible facilitators, from Solidary Now, helped me better understand the many aspects of the refugee crisis, its population, the various dynamics at play. Today was a great day” says Harrison.
7/5/17 Kavalari Camp
For the last day of “After School Magic” project, Harrison visited Kavalari, where a little girl and boy did a trick but the girl was very shy and would turn away when Harrison tried to get her to participate. “In my experience if you put an interesting object in front of the kid and act like you are not paying attention they will likely pick it up to examine” writes Harrison. Indeed, the little girl took the sponge ball and then handed it back to Harrison.
This time, 15 kids and 20 adults participated in his show as well as a mixed group of NGO workers. The show went smoothly. After the workshop was finished, a group of adults and NGO workers asked questions about magic tricks. The shy girl was standing there and watching me. By that point, she was a very active participant. “I opened my arms to hug her. She did the same thing to me” Harrison writes.
“As we all know the only thing that separates these children from any others of their age is the circumstances. I am so thankful to all these NGO’s who are working with them and making the real difference, even though it may never be enough. These children deserve the childhood that is being stolen from them” Harrison says.