Rachel Hayter, 24, is from London and has been working at the Julio Otoni Project for the last three months. We caught up with Rachel at the end of her volunteer placement to find out about her experience with the project and how she has spent her time in Rio de Janeiro.
What were you doing before you joined the Julio Otoni Project?
I taught music in London and worked with Grand Union Orchestra and Haringey Shed Theatre company, both of which work with disadvantaged communities in the area. I also worked as a freelance flautist playing Brazilian and World music. Brazilian music was what brought me here in the first place!
What made you decide to join the Julio Otoni Project?
I had heard of the Julio Otoni Project when I came to Brazil a few years ago and wanted to try out the possibility of teaching English through theatre and music. I am also passionate about Brazilian music (particularly Choro) and wanted to return to Rio.
What is your specific role within the Julio Otoni Project?
I directed the Cinderella play, a pilot project which aimed to teach English through theatre. I would eventually like to set up a company in England to teach foreign language through creative methods such as theatre, music and movement, so this project has been a great learning experience.
What have been the highlights of your volunteer experience?
Seeing the kids running around in fancy dress! Looking back on videos and photos of the classes is also great as you don’t appreciate it at the time, but being able to look back at all the footage makes you realise how far it’s come.
What have been your greatest challenges to overcome so far?
Discipline in the classroom has been the biggest issue, particularly when you’re dealing with kids with behavioural problems. Teaching in Portuguese as a second language is also challenging as is dealing with the practicalities of staging a play with a range of differing ages, abilities and interests.
How has your overall experience been with the Julio Otoni Project?
It’s been good because everyone on the team is involved with the project and has an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve. Everyone works together and supports each other to bring ideas to life. Without everyone’s support it never would have come together!
What advice would you give to anyone interested in participating with the Julio Otoni Project?
Learn Portuguese! It’s essential to working with the kids. Also, think of strict plan of action for classroom discipline from the start. The main part of working at the community centre is to keep the children entertained, so everyone has something to offer and some way of helping out with the project.
If you are interested in making a donation to the Julio Otoni Project, check out our site on Global Giving.
If you are interested in volunteering at Julio Otoni, click here for more information.
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