Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Voluntourist Experience

Hello everyone! Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year!

We are back to work already, giving a workshop in English for people that are interested only two days a week and very informal. But we are very much looking forward to February, not only because we will have a new team of Resident Volunteers but also because looking back at 2011, the role of Voluntourist has become extremely important!

We had over 40 Voluntourists participate last year in a span of six months alone. Every Voluntourist has their own story, and being a Voluntourist not only impacts the students here in Rocinha in a positive way, but the Voluntourist also has the opportunity for a very rewarding experience!

Here is an example of just one of our Voluntourists from 2012, Jolien Carnel from Belgium. She helped out and gave our advanced classes seminars and also taught private classes. See below how her work with us helped her with her Master's Thesis!

Jolien - Thank you for your time and for your lovely letter! We will miss you and best of luck!

Written by Jolien Carnel, 2012:
When I decided to write my thesis about favelatourism in Rio de Janeiro, I had never been to the marvelous city, not to mention its favelas. It was quite difficult to find contacts for my fieldwork in Rocinha, until I got in touch with two brothers. Teaching English with them gave me the opportunity to get to know Rocinha. I still remember the first time I came to the community, a big hill full of lights. Two volunteers picked me up at the passarela and showed me the way to the school. In class, the students had to talk about their employment. Unlike certain assumptions people may have,  everyone had a job. Afterwards we ate Japanese and went to a bar with some of  the students and volunteers. 

I already read that there are a lot of wrong conceptions about Rio’s favelas, and now I could experience a part of life in Rocinha and see it for myself. You can’t just say it’s all violence or poverty, neither is everything going well. There are problems that have to be attended, but this doesn’t mean you can neglect the many positive features of Rocinha.  As they were the subject of my thesis, I also participated in some favelatours. Because I already knew a little about Rocinha, I could observe the tours in a more critical way. The tours in which I participated tried to give a correct image, but this is not easy. 

There are different opinions about a lot of things, like the pacification or the tourists coming to Rocinha. All of these different opinions show the complex reality of Rocinha and have been very helpful for my thesis. However, my stay in Rio wasn’t only useful for my thesis, I also had a good time and met nice and interesting people.


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