Building Bridges in the Ukraine 2018


Caste Away Arts were bestowed with the opportunity to work with some lovely young people in the beautiful town of Ternopil in Western Ukraine. With over 30 schools all specialising in different areas we chose one of the most disaffected.  For the students of Ternopil 7, this was their encounter with someone from the British South Asian community so they were excited to say the least. This created the perfect opportunity for us to create positive images and give them a real taste of diversity to build a bridge between us. The experience was like stepping back in time literally.  They had black boards, no internet, minimal facilities but they were liberal. the students were delightful.  There was a buzz and I certainly felt welcome.

I worked with two sets of year 9, one where we totally deranged the room as I do and the other outside in the sun. The drama workshop consisted of really getting the young people out of their comfort zone and celebrating what was weird, wonderful and unique about them. It took a while to warm up but they soon came out of their shell bursting with character.

As always our workshops are a bag of laughs and really stretch the imagination including mine as there was a language barrier.  The outcomes: Everyone is different and that is OK. The kids also got to learn English from a native speaker and learned the meaning of ‘Namaste’ a true enrichment for them.

The sessions ended with a Q&A’s which was a chance to get to know a new face and an opportunity to dispel negative pre-conceptions. During my time in Ukraine I noticed a lot of hostility towards the ‘Gypsy’ communities which was deemed perfectly acceptable. Islamophobia too was very rife because of negative reporting.  The discussion was an opportunity to talk about diversity,  acceptance and tackle some inflammatory subjects. All of this was well received and opened the minds of these young souls.  It all ended in tears of joy and selfies. I walked away feeling like celebrity.

Thank you School 7 for your time and I look forward to working with you again.  Namaste


love Reena

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