Saturday, August 2, 2014

IPP - Inspiring Change

I have spent the last 2.5 weeks at a CISV International People's Project.  Our theme was IPP Inspiring Change.  Although unclear at first, we eventually came to see it as planting a seed in kids that their educators will water and help grow.  So, let me start from the beginning:

We are a group of 22, aged mostly around 19-20, but several people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.  We have 5 staff who have spent months planning these two weeks for us.  We spent 4 days "training" to spend 2 weeks at Associacao Anhumas Quero-Quero, an NGO in Campinas, Sao Paulo.  Their tagline is "Educar e acreditar em sonhos" - to educate is to believe in dreams.  AAQQ is split into two unities, AA and QQ.  AA is located in a comunidade off of the side of the highway, and QQ is located in the Ecological Park.  Our group split up into these unities, 12 spent each day at AA and 10 spent each day at QQ.  We had 10 days total at our 2 unities.  In Brasil, you either go to school in the morning or the afternoon.  In the morning, we had the kids who go to school in the afternoon, and vice versa in the afternoon.  We had about 3 hours with the kids in each session, and in between we would have lunch, evaluate, and rest.  Most of the kids were younger, but in the AA unity we had a group of teenagers in the afternoon.  With them, we could have deeper discussions and we talked about anything from fears, to dreams, to the police, and to whatever they wanted to talk about. In the AA unity our kids were split by groups, and us as volunteers rotated in and out of each group.  As much as we wanted to get to know everyone, I do think that was very selfish of us.  Looking back, it would have been much better if the educators put us into groups and we stayed with the same kids.

Selfishness has been something I have really thought about over the last two weeks.  I didn't come to Brasil just to do this IPP.  The main reason for me coming here was to learn.  And I have learned more than I ever expected by living in Florianopolis and coming to this IPP.  After the first day at AA when the kids were crazy and all you thought you would ever do was energizers and running games, I felt like it was completely wrong of me to be there.  What gives me the right as a white girl from the USA to come to a comunidade in Brasil (which by the way I call them that because it's politically correct, but if you're from there you call it a favela) and try and "inspire" kids, make them like me, and then just leave?  I'm still battling this one out in my head because I don't know where to stand on this whole "voluntourism" issue.  The only good thing I keep trying to tell myself is that the educators at AAQQ really will take something away from this, even if the kids won't.  They saw different ways of group work, different activities, and new ways of getting kids attention.  The educators are a really unique group of people who mostly come from the comunidades.  They are some of the most caring individuals I have ever met and I'm happy and quite thankful I got to know them.  So, about the whole kids and educators and right and wrong of this IPP, I'm still not sure how I feel.  I've written thousands of words in a journal trying to figure it out, but all I know is that I'm just going to try and keep learning.  If I clarify more of my thoughts later, I'll let you know :)

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