Simone - Education Coordinator at the high school
Dear Viva a Vida Friends and Supporters!
Today we’d like to tell you about an amazing woman, a valued partner at the local high school, whose presence, enthusiasm and energy makes so much difference, lighting up the future for our young participants.
“There is a difference in the young people who participate in [Viva a Vida]. Dialogue with them always comes through this lens of coexistence and awareness of their role in transformation. Young people need to occupy this space. The arts give them this potential and this creative energy”.
Education cannot be limited to the four walls of the classroom. It needs to make connections with its surroundings. Education is life itself and must be linked to it”.
This story has a slightly different format. In fact, this wasn’t our plan, but when we interviewed the Education Coordinator at CEVA (as we call the high school), we discovered another talent… one for narrative, someone who can move and enchant us. That’s why we are going to transcribe what Simone Alves so affectionately shared with us. This story brings together three noteworthy aspects for our work: EDUCATION, VIVA A VIDA and THE POWER OF BLACK WOMEN.
Simone Alves is one of those women who captivate you at first sight, she is black, with a strong but sweet voice, wears high heels, is a veritable work machine! CEVA, a Viva a Vida partner for more than 5 years, has received, more than that, welcomed our ideology and projects. The Director Adriano Souza, with Vice-Directors Sandra Barbosa and Talma Paz, have always granted us respect and provided unequal partnership, which needs to be acknowledged.
But we have chosen to talk about Simone for a number of reasons, the main one being that we are commemorating Black Consciousness Month right now, and, at the same time, constructing a new project aimed at girls and women. So we felt the need to focus on her story, which encourages us, confirming the challenges we face in Vila de Abrantes, but also demonstrating her huge capacity to overcome them. She is an inspiring example for both our vision and the future of our young participants.
She has worked in education for more than 20 years, beginning her experience in a municipal school in the neighborhood of Saramandaia (an extremely vulnerable area in Salvador), where she was invited to work as a teacher in a private school and three years later as the Education Coordinator. During her career, she has also worked as an education consultant in companies (the publishing market), during which she got to know the whole of Brazil.
“[on being a teacher and moving around Brazil as a consultant]… A challenge for a woman and a black one too, to work in teacher training in such different places and at the same time covering countless miles alone. But for an ideal!”
“Which made me think I could help people. And public education is the place for this! What motivated me at the time was training teachers and knowing that, one way or another, that training would reach the students: through methodological innovations and changes to attitudes!”
Simone got the job at CEVA by passing a public examination, but she was afraid of going into a public school and changing its principals about quality education.
“My educational references are founded on the ideas of Paulo Freire (popular and political education) and Anísio Teixeira (education is not a privilege for the elite). For this reason, I saw the human potential, that’s why I gradually succumbed to their ideals, entered the public service and gained the title of civil servant. I am at the public’s service. That’s why I chose it!”
“Every day I dream of seeing public schools as the only reference centers for quality education”.
Working in Brazil’s public education network, specifically in Vila de Abrantes, is a challenge with many faces: professional team training, institutional racism, infrastructure, violence in the community and many others.
“The challenges are daily and constant: the first is to push for an epistemological examination of education in our times! Study and research have to be constants in my teacher training activities. To coordinate a team of education professionals is to care about training, to keep the teaching staff up to date and to commit to this ‘choice’.”
“Racism is engrained when they don’t believe in your potential. In this arena, a black woman should be providing other services. I have compartmentalized every minute of my work. As an educator I am preoccupied with the coordination of teachers and in thinking about education. I point this out every time I’m expected to do something else. It’s not that I can’t perform other tasks. But racism knows exactly where, to which skin color, it seeks to impose its desires. I am careful in this compartmentalization. I remain vigilant and attentive the whole time. Sexism comes out and presents itself at various moments. I combat this, either by being more assertive or more loving, warning people delicately and subtly.”
At the high school, Viva a Vida works with about 600 students per year through workshops in Human and Socio-environmental Rights for adolescents from 14 to 17 years old, in the first year of high school, using arts-education as a tool to discuss urban violence, racism and drug abuse. The partnership between our NGO and the school is essential in order to have an impact on these young people’s life projects. CEVA understands the role played by our activities, supports us in all our actions and recognizes our activities in the community.
“The search for partners is due to the management team’s belief in the power of collaboration. Joining forces is the first pillar for us to gain ground. Education cannot be limited to the four walls of the classroom. It needs to make connections with its surroundings. Education is life itself and must be linked to it”.
We note that we have seen a number of other partnerships since the beginning of the 2019 academic year, one highlight being the psychology center, which powerfully addresses the theme of suicide, and in many meetings and debates about racism and the empowerment of the black population.
“I have been at CEVA since January. I participated in registration. And at that moment I saw a new reality: leaving the publishing space, with its air-conditioning and all its technological and luxurious apparatus, to occupy a space that isn’t so comfortable, but contains people who will conquer the spaces they desire very quickly. They will be able to choose!”
At Viva a Vida, we believe in the same ideas as Simone, who certainly represents the ideas of the high school.
“I chose here! To emancipate people and help this project. It’s an ideal! To provide a public school of quality (if not in its physical space, in its human and educational differential).
To emancipate people is embedded within our institutional mission, to teach adolescents and young people the road to strength and empowerment. Where they can make assertive choices… and this begins in the school arena… without a doubt!
“For me a quality school is a school which understands its historical setting. Which respects diversity, which recognizes what it means to learn, which makes connections with life. Which gives voice to students, which points out the pathways, which is joyful and fun, because learning is about joy. Which goes beyond education: which emancipates!”
“My work is making this public school the best: a reference center! This depends on me too. I am involved in this! Since I was born, I have chosen teaching. Education is dedication, research, study and commitment to change! I believe in this.”
Let’s hear what she specifically has to say about Education, Viva a Vida and Racism, which demonstrates how we are on the same path as our valued colleagues at the high school, fighting together for a brilliant future!
“Education has always moved me and seeing people fulfilling their dreams and overcoming barriers pleases and satisfies me. I am a product of this history! Education also happens with political responsibility and intentionality.”
ASSOCIAÇÃO VIVA A VIDA
“Viva a Vida has great relevance to our work and a direct impact. Political awareness, respect and critical awareness are elements that the young people who are both there and here at CEVA explicitly demonstrate. There is a difference in the young people who participate in [Viva a Vida]. Dialogue with them always comes through this lens of coexistence and awareness of their role in transformation. Young people need to occupy this space. The arts give them this potential and creative energy.”
INSTITUTIONAL RACISM/SEXISM/BEING A BLACK WOMAN
“As a black woman, I see institutional racism the whole time. I see it when they come to find someone from the management team and I’m there, and they ask me the same question, even when I introduce myself as the Coordinator. Racism is perverse and it does not accept a black woman in a role like this!”
Congratulations on your great work, Simone! Let’s carry on in this struggle together, always believing in the transformative power of education and art, so that young people can overcome the vulnerabilities imposed on them by society.
These spring months have been full of poetry, graffiti and music, with young artists and leaders involved in exhibitions, recitals and much more! Find out what your generosity has supported since the end of August:
- III NIGHT CLASS CONGRESS/CEVA – Our young poet, Thiago Almir participated in the III Congress for Night Class Students at the State College of Vila de Abrantes, which had the theme: movements of resistance and representativeness in power arenas; Barbara Carine led the roundtable dialogue. Viva poetry as an instrument of resistance!
- MUSIC AND POETRY EVENING – Mission provided is mission accomplished. The young people from the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade(LivingTogetherSustainability) project held their first Music and Poetry Event on 21 September at our community center. It was an open mic event for other artists from the community. “I felt really comfortable, I felt at home, I really liked the artistic performances and the way everyone is welcome", said one of the young poets.
- On 30 September, Viva a Vida participated in another SUPPORT THE FUNDS training session run by the Boticario Institute in partnership with Camaçari’s Municipal Child and Adolescent Rights Council.
- JACA ARTS EVENT – JACA or the Group of Young Activists from Cajazeiras, celebrated its 15th anniversary of community arts and activism. We believe this to be the biggest community arts event in the city and it was a fantastic demonstration of resistance and courage! The #VivaJuntosSustentabilidadegroup was honored to participate in the event on 19 October - a hugely important exchange of experiences for their training.
- Viva a Vida’s young leader Priscila Assunção attended a meeting of Camaçari’s Municipal Child and Adolescent Rights Council as part of our agenda of activities for young people to find out about and develop public oversight activities and activism.
- CIDADE DO SABER EXHIBITION – On 31 October the Camaçari’s Municipal Plan for Child and Adolescent Rights was presented at the Cidade do Saber Exhibition Center. This was a great event bringing together representatives of those working with children and adolescents in the municipality. Viva a Vida was present, exhibiting the #VivaJuntosproject graffiti panels and photographs. Visiting participants admired the work and discussed their Human Rights themes with our young artists. Viva to the organizations that fight so hard to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents.
- On 6 November the final SUPPORT THE FUNDS meeting was held to present projects. This was to mark the culmination of four monthly training meetings mediated by Andréa Moreira from the Yaba Consultancy in Sustainable Development and Social Investment. Viva a Vida’s contributed in the form of political poetry recited by young poet Jesse Jasal and Youth Worker Marcos Paulo.
- Our 2nd MUSIC AND POETRY EVENINGwasheld on at Viva a Vida on 9 November, including a rap battle, a violin performance, other music and lots of poetry!
- Artist Rubens Chagas brightened up our day! The young artists and leaders from the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidadeproject were privileged to receive Rubens and hear his thoughts about drawing and graffiti, filling the center with energy and color!
Young artists exhibition - Cidade do Saber
Music and Poetry Event run by our young poets