Sorocaba, January 17 Session started at 9:00 as usual. Margit opened the session and was followed by Chris, who made an announcement [somebody had lost something (again!)]. Back to Margit who announced the program for the morning: individual presentations, cultural presentations and poster presentations. Shaun, in charge of the talent show, encouraged everybody to participate.
The first person to present was Chris Lima (from Porto Alegre). In her activity she asked the participants to draw a road map and write information that was important in it. After that, we were asked to talk to our peers about our map explaining what it meant to us. Then she presented a poem (The Road Not Taken). The poem was read silently and then David read it aloud. This was a very nice activity that made us reflect on which road we are taking after this challenging and thought provoking event. She also showed us two sets of follow up questions to check comprehension and critical thinking.
The next presenter was Nela from Peru. In this presentation, she used an Internet article of CNN news about phrase “Merry Christmas” being replaced by “Happy Holydays” on the grounds that the later would be more ‘politically correct’. She also read a politically correct version of The Red Riding Hood story, which caused laughter in some of us. We agreed that policies towards political correctness may be responsible for the appearance of ridiculous ideas, it might as well bring benefits to certain minorities. On the other hand, Vanessa pointed out that we should watch for sarcasm coming from far right groups who just want things to continue to be the same.
Once these two presentations were over, we moved on to the culture presentations. One part of the group stayed in the room with Sarah and the other went to the exhibition room. Sarah approached the topic of organization in subtle way. She first asked ourselves to talk about how organized we were with our houses and stuff like that. Then she moved on to the topic of our coming/future projects. This was a really nice activity to wrap up the first session before the break.
Back from the break, we went to the cultural exhibit and presentations. Our colleagues Leticia, Maria Esther, Nela and Yony from Peru were the first to present. They included in their presentation typical dresses from their country and other garment, works of art and food (the best milk caramel ever with crackers). Besides that, we also received gifts from them. It was great. Brazil was represented by Andrea Matos (Rio), Eleonor (Pernambuco), and Ana Lídia (Tocantins). Andréa talked about the beauty of Rio and some of its tourist attractions. Eleonor mentioned the cultural and geographical diversity of North-eastern Brazil. Ana Lídia was proud to represent Tocantins in its rich biodiversity. Luisa Andrea, Maricel and Ximena represented Chile with typical dress products and gave us of glimpse the diversified, beautiful landscape. Nahir from Venezuela talked about her countries privileged position in South America and its natural resources. She also brought chocolate and rum. Tânia from Cuba brought with her a whole collection of typical statues that were given as gift to the participants (isn’t she great?). Besides that, she also brought maracas and promotional material for Habana Cigars.
We were back at 2:30. Sarah conducted the session whose objective was to go over questions asked at the day before. In this session, Margit reinforced the importance of positive outcomes. This automatically led to the difficulties some of us found in having immediate ideas for projects, once it had been just an overwhelming amount of information in a short period of time. To this, Margit pointed out that it would be nice to have some ideas for projects today and others would come later.
We moved on to discuss other topics, one concern was the CDs we would be getting with material presented. Of course we would like to have everything, but I am afraid it would not be possible. The role of teachers in critical literacy and intercultural communication was also debated.
Next, the big group was broken up into four smaller groups. This time the tutors moved around listening and helping participants with their doubts or burning questions. Most people had questions about projects they were thinking about. Once this part was over, was time for another break and more food.
The session after the break was conducted by David who started by reminded us of the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely [a time scale]) agenda. This was related to our project proposals. We moved on to this topic then. They were four main interest areas: blogging, critical literacy, internet, and challenging stereotypes. Participants were grouped according to their interest and went to discuss their project ideas. At the end of the session most people handed out their proposal sheets.
Finally, there was the talent show. This event was such a huge success that giving details about it would consume too many pages and too much time of an inexperienced blogger like me. Some things, however, are worth mentioning: the talent of our host Shaun, the amazing creativity of the fun committee and the touching presentation of our Chilean friends who paid homage to all us. That’s all for now.