Enjoy your holiday festivities and tune in next week for another post!

Guna the Great Sharing her Passion for Art, Health and Life at Julio Otoni


The Julio Otoni Project has attracted many great volunteers, and Miss Guna is surely one of them. This glowing and healthful soul came to Julio Otoni to teach art classes, which have grown into much more.

Guna shared with me the three key components of her classes:

1. Increasing body awareness and appreciation


Starting each class with breathing exercises and yoga postures helps the kids at Julio Otoni become aware of the present moment.

2. Art as a means to discover youself

Guna and her teaching partner Hernan, use open ended assignments to allow the students to explore. The painting above was created when the students were asked to paint their soul.

3. Food- giving thanks and eating what will help us grow.

Guna created these mandalas with the students to celebrate the fun and beauty in healthy food. This is just one of example of the many healthy snacks Guna and Hernan have prepared for the students at Julio Otoni. Using whole ingredients and no sugar Guna shares delicious vegan snacks with the kids. As an artist Guna is also aware of the importance of the presentation of the food and how this can help us eat with more awareness and gratitude.

Guna’s classes are based in concepts many of us could learn from, and the Julio Otoni project is oh so lucky to have her as a volunteer. What’s even better is that when I asked Guna for any last thoughts about her experiences at JO she only wanted to give thanks for the opportunity to share her gifts with the community, and tell me how grateful she is for this place.
What a beautiful and mutually beneficial exchange!

Thank you Guna, we cherish your good work.


Tchau, David!

This week we say good bye to a long term volunteer at the center. David is returning to his homeland of Austria this week, after nine months of volunteering with the Julio Otoni project.


David has been a dedicated English teacher for both adults and children of the Julio Otoni community, as well as a chaperone on adventures with the kids.

I had the chance to sit and talk with David a bit about his time at the center, and was inspired by his commitment. When David first arrived he spoke no Portuguese and had no teaching experience. Day by day his Portuguese advanced and he discovered his aptitude for creating engaging English lessons. It was the positive response from the community at Julio Otoni that kept David coming back despite the challenges he faced.

“Nothing is too difficult. There is knowledge to be gained from every situation, no matter how difficult.

Some of David’s favorite parts of his time at the center were his excursions with the students. These included visits to a nature reserve outside of the city and to Teatro Sesi here in the city center.


Another favorite aspect of the job for David was the amount of personal growth he underwent throughout the experience. David is returning to Austria with the realization of his capability as a teacher and a higher value placed on education.


Thank you, David. We’ll miss you!

New semester, new classes!

Coming back to school after holidays is always difficult, especially after the joys of Carnival. Luckily the schedule at Julio Otoni is full of engaging classes, taught by local community members as well as our amazing volunteers from around the world.


Click to enlarge

Get to know what’s going on at Julio Otoni by following our blog as we meet and interview a teacher or student each week.


New semester, new face

To start the semester, the center is changing his face with a mural from the plastic artist Miriam Brugmann. Thank you, Miru!


Julio Otoni Prepares for Jobatucanto’s Latin American Adventures!

For the past month, the afternoon music class at the Julio Otoni Community Center has been preparing for the kids’ next musical performance, “Jobatucanto’s Latin American Adventures,” scheduled for this Saturday, July 13th at 7pm in the Sede (resident’s association) of the favela. 

“Jobatucanto,” as the group is affectionately known, is an amalgamation of the words “Jo” – for “Julio Otoni,” “batu”, for “batucada,” a sub-style of samba that includes African-influenced percussion, and “canto,” referring to the vocal aspect of the group. The group was formed in October 2011 when Profesora Vânia from Minas Gerais first started volunteering at the center. The kids learned Brazilian and African rhythms until Profesora Natalia, from Argentina, joined in July 2012 and expanded their repertoire. Jobatucanto did the music for Cinderella, the kids’ musical theater performance earlier this year and have also performed in another, smaller, end-of-year presentation, but this is their first full-length performance focusing on their talents.  

The show will take the audience on a musical journey across Latin America, and will feature songs from Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay. The morning class will have its chance to shine, too, as they will be involved with set design and will have paintings they completed during their English class on display. 

Entrance to the event is free, with the chance to donate however much the spectators want to give. There will also be a vintage clothing sale to raise funds for the Center. With the money raised from the Cinderella performance, we were able to buy a sound system and we hope to raise enough money to make another, similarly meaningful contribution this time around.

Volunteers from around the world have put in lots of time and energy this week into making the show a success – please come and support their efforts!





Making lamps for the set of Jobatucanto’s Latin American Adventures 

ImageImageRehearsal sessions


Our visit to Travessias

Last week we went with the Julio Otoni kids to Travessias 2, an art gallery located in the Favela da Mare right here in Rio de Janeiro. I’ve been hearing really cool things about the art initiatives of the Museu da Mare, so it was a really good opportunity to check it out in person. We took a ‘kombi’ (or van) that was sponsored by REDES http://redesdamare.org.br/, an NGO that helps the Mare community.

The kids were very excited about all the art in the Gallery. All the artists at the exhibit were Brazilian but also world renowned which gave the kids a lot of incentive to start our photography course this week. The kids all asked and answered the questions that our museum guide had, and we were said to be one of the best groups they’ve had so far.

This gallery was a spacious gallery, with a lot of books and interactive art, which had the kids very engaged the whole way through. They got to peep into a hole that showed other museums from around the world, they touched sculptures, looked at great photography from the slums, and played with a ‘Surdo’ re-invented by the famous Ernesto Neto. They had questions about the contemporary paintings on the walls, different than the ones they’re used to seeing in their History books. And at the end they looked at collages made by the also famous Vik Muniz, and took inspiration to make their very own collage.

We were all served a ‘lanche’ by the staff at Travessias and some ‘pastel’ and ‘guarana’ complements of Niger. It was a fun filled day and I can’t wait to hang out with them some more.

The exhibit runs till Jun 23rd, and I highly recommend it if you’re in Rio: http://2013.travessias.org.br/english/

Also look out for the upcoming exhibits at the Museu da Mare!





















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