Ms. Arbella Ross, theater workshop instructor at Hydrama Theater and Arts Center, flew four thousand miles from Greece to Bangladesh to work with the Amrao Manush children. For a month she has been teaching them drama and communications lessons and trying to find out ways to make education fun for kids by creating an experience they would hold dear to their heart.
After she finished her undergraduate studies, she went through a dark time as she was suffering from depression and her mother encouraged her to pursue a hobby that would help her. She found out that theater had a great effect on her and through this mode of art, she wants to make people feel the same effect. She thought that her experiences would allow her to help the Amrao Manush children.
“It is amazing what theater can do, you can build a community through expression and be an active part of that amazing community”, she says.
According to her, this idea of community and building bridges is very important for children because when they are at school, they are at their community and as a child they learn most social skills, understand the awareness of the world and forge their friendships in this community. The way children learn at school can impact their future, and she believes that there is no teacher, no student when one is at school. There is only facilitator or encourager, which can be the teacher or the student and vice versa. Sometimes the children can teach the teachers many things, and this helps build confidence in the children.
“I tell the teachers, today you’re not teachers and they’re not students, you’re all just people – you’re all Manush”.
Her main observation was that children require imagination and initiative, and restriction of that imagination acts as a hindrance in child growth. Different children require different kind of support, and different form of encouragement. For example, the Amrao Manush children have traumatic events in their life, so they tend to shut down. “With trust exercise we can identify children with this sort of trauma and can build trust in them, discreetly. Also, positive reinforcement can go a long way, the children who are naughtier and have more energy can channel their gusto through drama”.
This experience has been a very emotional one for her as she bonded with the children very quickly and managed to communicate without any barriers. “Sometimes we didn’t have any translators, and we could communicate. There were no borders, we could contact through music, body language, art, dancing“.
Lastly, she tells us that her experience teaching the children hasn’t only been about Amrao Manush but also about being in Bangladesh.
“One thing I would say that Bangladesh and the people living here are so unique, I have found that the hospitality of people are astounding. Watching the people, the children grow – the Manush have been the best experience.”