Forming bonds with children through theatre work in the U.S. and Brazil: A post by Roland Gainer

9 Jun

Hi! My name is Roland Gainer. I am from New York City. I am a senior here at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Last semester I had the opportunity of volunteering for PCAP at Lincoln-Caulmet juvenile facility in Detroit. I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop with Renisha, Yara, and Hannah. They were the best workshop partners I could’ve ever asked for. The young men in the facility were such intelligent, silly, respectful and inquisitive people. They were always excited to see us and always participated with such joy and high energy.

PCAP in the sand

One of my favorite moments in the workshop was when we were all playing hangman. I learned so many new words that day. We all got pretty competitive and the Michigan students lost the majority of the games of hangman. I really appreciate the lesson that they taught us. They taught me that there is a reason for every person’s experience and that fundamentally we all are great people and should not be judged by the decisions we’ve made in the past. One of the purposes of life is to learn and grow from each experience that you go through. I really pray that I will be able to see and interact with the young men in the workshop again.

I wanted to come on this trip for multiple reasons. One reason is that I have a goal of transforming the minds of people all over the world to love those around them and make the world a better place and to believe in themselves and one another. Traveling with PCAP gives me an opportunity to have a positive effect on those around me and gets me closer to my overall goal in life. Another reason is that I am culturally inexperienced. I want to understand and immerse myself in different cultures and learn from them. No longer do I want to walk around ignorant not knowing anything but the small and shallow culture that exists in America.

My experience here has been unbelievably great. I’ve grown really close to a large number of people in such a short amount of time. When we attended the social justice theatre festival at UDESC, we spent the day moving from one theatre workshop to another with a group of children who are part of a theatre program in a rural part of the state of Santa Catarina. The children who were attending the theatre festival in Florianópolis were the greatest group of children ever! They all had so many ideas and perspectives and was not afraid to express them. What really got me was when the children started crying on our last day when they realized that we would be leaving Florianópolis. The children made my heart melt. I would not have traded experiencing them for anything else in the world. We formed such strong attachments, and I love them so much.

Roland with kids from theatre festival

Roland with children who participated in the theatre festival at UDESC.

I really enjoyed the workshops that we did at the theatre festival. One workshop that we did was called “See, Judge, Act.” The kids who took the workshop with us decided to improvise a scene of bullying because the friend of one of the boys in the workshop was getting bullied at school, and this boy wanted to know how he could help his friend. The performance was very powerful and created by the children. I played the kid being bullied, and Erich, another Michigan student on our trip, played the bully. The kids decided to play supporting roles where they stopped me from getting bullied because they didn’t want to be bullied nor did they want bully anyone else. They are so creative and caring. It’s beautiful.

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