Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rocinha

Today was my first class teaching English in Rocinha. Here's the experience in a nutshell

a) it was both harder and easier than I thought. Harder because they are counting on you to provide material for an hour and a half. Easier because the students enjoyed basically anything I did as long as I talked slowly.

b) 6 students that are the "advanced" students. Really this just means they know any at all. They range in age from 23 to 38. The 38 year old guy had obviously been beaten up recently and wore sunglasses to cover up his bruises and stitches.

c) I tried to make it vaguely educational. I asked questions like "how many people are Brazil?" Estimates ranged from 3 million to 200 million. One student was close on all my estimations, but most had no idea. When the girl said 3 million, one laughed and said, "there's 3 million in Copacabana alone."

Next class is Tuesday. There's a teachers meeting Saturday. Trying to think of something cool to do during class on my birthday, 2 weeks from today. Hopefully by then the class is comfortable enough to do extra things. Vanessa will be here so maybe we can do something cool for them together.

I'm doing this volunteering for a foundation called 2bros international, which has an office in Rocinha, the biggest favela in Brazil. I went at the urging of the guy I randomly got in contact with on Craiglist while looking for housing. He put me in touch with a former Fulbrighter who did her entire Fulbright project with the foundation. Now I'll be teaching twice a week for at least 3 months. I think it will be a worthwhile experience.

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