Sunday, June 16, 2013

I love Rio because... Voluntourist Post

After spending the last couple of days getting to know the school and the kids we were able to run a full session with 11 participants aged between 11 and 13 years old. The lovely Erin translated for us which we were extremely appreciative of. However, as this was also a scheduled English class the group had to share their answers in English. We began the session by asking the group to move all the desks and chairs to one side, an activity which always causes excitement in groups while they anticipate what is going to happen in a classroom with no desks. We asked the group to come into a circle and started the first game to help put everyone at ease and inject some energy into the room. The game was very simple and required the participants to introduce themselves with an action which brings in the first elements of performance without the group really knowing and can gently break down confidence barriers because the group has to replay each others’ actions back to them. This game demonstrated the many personalities that were in the group with one participant strutting into the middle when saying their name and another pretending to punch the person next to them. There were big, loud gestures, some smaller, understated ones and some downright silly ones but for this game, anything goes and they all have the chance for it to be repeated back to them which they seemed to find pleasantly amusing.

This session was all about them and where they lived. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond our control, the lesson had to be slightly shorter than planned so we could not do all the exercise we had originally intended but it served as a great taster to show the group what else there is to come and what they can expect from us. We wanted to focus this session on where they lived as we believe it is a great way for us to see their neighbourhoods and their city through their eyes and engage in Freire’s notion of ‘cultural synthesis’ which allows the participants to be ‘co-authors of the action’ 
(Freire 2007: 180).

We carried this out by asking the group to get into pairs and draw pictures of what they like about where they live, their favourite places to go, what they enjoy doing etc and to write a sentence in English underneath to give more detail. Our research into the development and regeneration taking place in response to the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 explained that a lot of changes are going on all over the city but the favelas are seen as the most disposable areas to move, rebuild or knock down completely therefore, we wanted this session to highlight positively their experiences and demonstrate to us their views of what makes them happy about where they live.

At the end of the session, after sharing everyone’s work and discussing some of what Rio and Rocinha have to offer (which as an added bonus gave us some insightful tourist tips!) we departed company with the group smiling and hopeful that they would return for our next session. 

Sophie Wakeford
Masters Student from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London
2bros Voluntourist

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