Lianne Bettis, GETZanzibar 2013 teaching artist intern, shares her thoughts on the program as things get underway…

Lianne with students in Zimbabwe.

Lianne with students in Zimbabwe.

Lianne came to GETheatre through the Kiwengwa Primary School, where Ashley Olson serves as the Head of School and Primary Teacher.  We are excited that Lianne is now joining GETZanzibar 2013 and bringing with her a wealth of experience working with language learners in Africa. 

Ashley and I are now settled in to the swing of life in Stone Town, where we’re busy preparing for the start of GETZanzibar 2013. I’m feeling very excited and curious as to what the next two weeks will hold. I’ve been living in Zanzibar since January, teaching at the Kiwengwa Primary School with Ashley. My time on the island has so far been a wonderful experience in every respect. Zanzibar is a fascinating and unique place and that I’m looking forward to experiencing it from a different angle through GETheatre. I can’t wait to meet the students and teachers at Kiembe Samaki, experience life at their school, and learn about them and their country.

I’m very happy to have this opportunity to be involved in GETheatre’s project. The principles behind the program, of empowering young people and giving them platform to make their voice heard, are values I thoroughly respect and strongly believe in. GET’s work is also in line with some of the work I’ve been involved with in the past. Whilst studying for my Masters degree in International Development I spent some time at a secondary school in rural Zimbabwe. There I worked with students on a magazine project that aimed to give individuals the chance to express themselves in a creative manner and present their personal perspectives and cultural ideas to the world. This is what the GET program aims to do through the wonderful medium of theatre.

To me, GET provides students with a framework within which they can imagine, and believe in the possibility of their active involvement in creating change. To empower young people’s voice within their immediate and global context is crucial for ensuring they have the best means, mechanisms and opportunities to exercise positive agency, that is, to transform themselves and their circumstances.  

The students we will be working with over the next two weeks are at a critical point in their education. They will be taking exams at the end of Form 4 that will determine whether they can continue on in free secondary education. On average only 18% of students succeed in doing this, the rest are left at a precarious crossroad. When you live within a disadvantaged community, knowledge and education can be a strategic resources and an invaluable lifeline.

I hope I can help GETheatre give the students involved a little advantage by boosting their confidence in their written and spoken English. It would be great if we can inspire students to get involved in different forms of creative expression and ultimately provide these young people with the impetuous to succeed.

-Lianne Bettis

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