Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bella's Island - Voluntourist Post

In today’s adults class we only had one student (let’s call her Bella) but we continued with our plan which was based around creating a new society. The brief was that the government had marked out an area of land in Brazil (Bella’s Island) and the student or would have been students were in charge of making the rules by considering the following: what would the education system be like, would the citizens be able to carry guns, would they allow the death penalty, how would they handle immigration, what languages would they speak and so on. The controversial nature of some of these questions allowed for musings to become a debate which is when we used role play. By facilitating the session so that the student had to argue a case, for or against, allowed her to practice her pronunciation and try a different style of speaking by playing a character. Our student was very passionate about her answers and was adamant that no one should have guns and that education was the most important thing; adding that ‘it should be for life’.   

Over the course of the session we played around with the idea of creating a News Report about a hypothetical large scale event that will be coming to this new community. This allowed the session to have another activity which required basic drama skills and opened up a different avenue to think about how we communicate and how we could use the English language in this context.

Both of these tasks inevitably developed into a discussion about the laws in Brazil and the effects of the coming FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 to Rio de Janeiro. Bella was concerned about the cost of living Rio and how it is only increasing due to these two major events and the influx in tourists. She told us that the bus fare increases each month and it used to be 1R$ per journey but is now set to rise to 3R$ in the next few weeks. Considering the average wage in Rio is between 400R$ and 500R$ this can become a huge expense. Food and house prices are also being affected by this inflation and our student expressed sympathy for visiting tourists and the amount they will spend during their stay.

The main changes Bella has witnessed to Rocinha has been the increase in traffic on the main road outside and the pacification efforts of the police which will stop as soon as these mass events are over. Our student said that they are there to stop the gangs, the guns and the drugs but this is all still very much there it is just further underground and the people who would usually go to the up market places such as Ipanema and Copacabana to burgle houses are now stealing from people in Rocinha. Bella’s house has been robbed twice in the last few months.

On the flip side, she said that there will be more opportunities for work and so more people will learn English in order to secure a job during these events. Bella herself would like to apply for a position at the FIFA World Cup however, getting a job in Rio is all about contacts and not necessarily to with education or your CV. She also said that the Brazilians love Brazil and there will be a huge party full of yellow green!

This session turned out to be an extremely informative and interesting lesson. The different drama techniques helped to bring the subjects to life by allowing us to explore them through different avenues, opening up the need for new vocabulary and to concentrate on ‘If’ clauses and conditional sentences.

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

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