One of the biggest changes to my life by coming here has been the opportunities and possibilities offered by this amazing city and country. I am energised by the options available to me, I feel sometimes overwhelmed by what you could do here. This is a place at the beginning; this is a place of starting. I left behind, in England, a place which was slowly stumbling along. I left a system which had educated me and which I had worked in most of my adult life struggling to survive under constant attack, constant dismantling. I watched talented people become frustrated by their work, and ruthless people surge to the top trampling on ideals and morals on the way up the ladder of their ambitions. With sadness I watched priorities change as schools were set against each other, an inequity of funds, an inequity of care. I watched them remove the support systems which protected the families I worked with, leaving them to struggle on their own. The language of failure, of blame, of never being good enough as the goal posts constantly moved.
I was glad to leave. The more I hear about what is happening back there I feel glad that the weight of it isn’t holding me down any more. I’m also guilty that I am not there to do my part. I am here in this rapid changing world, as full of as much chaos as England, at times, but not in my corner. In my corner of this world it is all possibility. It is all yes, not no. Rarely why, just yes, why not. It is invigorating to be in that culture, to be around people who are at the start. Even the young people I worked with in England seemed to feel like they were at the end of something. The students here have taken on the projects we are working on with an energy and enthusiasm which shocks me, I’m not used to it. It’s wonderful!
I left for a reason, and to be here in this selfish glorious holiday from reality, I have to make it mean something. The personal pleasures of this experience, the travel, the challenge, the difference, the people, is amazing. But if I am going walk away from that system which raised me, which gave me all the tools to be here. Then I want to learn from it.
This blog is one of those beginnings, to be writing even just these short passages, and sharing them is a privilege. To have time and energy to write is a big change. To utilise everything I have learnt in the last 12 years of teaching, everything which has been shared with me. I can now share this with the people at my school. It makes me proud of what we are achieving. There is an acknowledgement of what we have done, not a criticism of what we haven’t done. This is just a beginning. I am full of lofty ideals; I know I’m not going to change the world. I have always been an armchair revolutionary. A long time ago a friend used to quote Oasis lyrics at me “so I start a revolution form my bed”. I was a lazy reactionary, always ranting and raving. I’m making a start, a new beginning and I ‘m proud to be doing that.
So on the 8th March, it is International Women’s Day. Something this lazy reactionary feels strongly about and I have made a start. I was looking for material to use at school and I came across this campaign http://joinmeonthebridge.org/ I watched some of their videos and was inspired by the idea of people coming together in support of women around the world who experience violence and who don’t have a voice. (Watch the videos I hope you are inspired too). I looked for an event in Brazil, in Sao Paulo and there wasn’t one. Here, in Brazil, at the start of something, surrounded by these positive resourceful fantastic friends and colleagues we could start something. Everyone I spoke to was enthusiastic, no barriers were put up, can we do this? Yes!
The bridge is chosen, the word is out. English friends, Brazilian friends, the students at school all sharing and encouraging. Currently we are the only event in South America http://joinmeonthebridge.org/page/event-map
This is the Facebook page set up by the students https://www.facebook.com/events/333541713351529/
I couldn’t be prouder or more blessed than to be surrounded by these amazing people. In my sadness at what I left behind and as I hear about the things that I felt were important being dismantled and put aside, as I worry for the children and families I left at least I am learning from Brazil that you can make things happen. However long I stay here I will take with me the sense of possibility that this place brings.