Dante Larini was a student at Caminhos Language Centre and a volunteer at Mais Caminhos. In this blog he writes about his experience as a volunteer.
It was unexpected for me to take part in the activities of Mais Caminhos. I am currently doing an internship here in Rio. However, since there is no work for me, they only need me twice per week. Because I took Portuguese classes at Caminhos Language Centre, I got to know Mais Caminhos. I thought to myself that volunteering for this organisation would be an interesting and rewarding experience.
After they accepted my request of participating as a volunteer, Mais Caminhos entrusted me with taking pictures and films of their daily activities with the kids, in order to post them on various social medias. A photographer normally does not participate in the action he is capturing. However, it was impossible to be just an observer. This blog is about what I felt through my modest activity here, described below by three activities.
Although I was a little nervous before meeting the kids, this feeling quickly disappeared. They had accepted me, the unknown photographer, as one of theirs! They immediately started calling me “Tio”, uncle in Portuguese. After the presentations, we started English class. Because each kid has a specific role to execute every day, little Emily was in charge of correcting an exercise for English class. She took her role so seriously, being strict but fair! I was able to see the passion she had for her role as a teacher. This example shows how these kids are encouraged to develop their potential, through participating actively in many educative activities within Mais Caminhos.
Furthermore, I was very impressed with the way each child has a defined role for the day. They all execute it with such responsibility. In my opinion, this is a successful sign of implementation of the positive discipline methodology.
The second experience was during an excursion at Copacabana beach with the Mais Caminhos kids. They were all so excited! Yet what struck me was the successful implementation of the positive discipline methodology. At first, because they were running around, the children were reminded of the rules they had to respect while being in the street (which included no running). This is very interesting, as the kids must know the rules and it is their responsibility to implement them. After a few remarks from the educators, they respected the rules very well. Like the system of roles mentioned above, the respect of rules is a efficient way to familiarise the children with having responsibilities. I was very impressed.
On the beach, the kids had a ball! I particularly appreciated one demonstration of teamwork. I suggested building a sand castle. Soon after, all of the children participated in the construction effort! It was touching to see them work together towards a common project.
The third and final activity mentioned in this blog was during theatre class. Every Wednesday, a theatre teacher, Creo Kellab comes for a few hours to make the kids participate in acting exercises and create small plays. It was a great experience to see them all participate with such energy and commitment.
One particular event is worth mentioning. One of the kids was a bit shy during the class. At one stage, he decided that he no longer wanted to participate, preventing the small play they had rehearsed to happen. Instead of telling him off, as most young kids would do, they all tried to reason with him in a calm and constructive way. To me this reflected their sense of responsibility and team cohesion, two characteristics of personal development that the Mais Caminhos teaching methodology encourages. Mais Caminhos has embraced Positive Discipline to grow and develop these underprivileged children into resourceful young citizens of their community.
In conclusion, because it was impossible to be just an observer. This unexpected disposition allowed me to know kids with so much potential, energy and will to develop themselves. The Mais Caminhos programme is doing so much to help these kids reaching the high level of personal development they deserve. Observing and participating in this, even for a short period, was a beautiful experience.