Lianne works with a small group of GETZanzibar 2013 students during the play creation process.

Lianne works with a small group of GETZanzibar 2013 students during the play creation process.

Lianne Bettis, GETZanzibar 2013 intern, shares her experiences after the first week:

The first week of GETZanzibar 2013 was a roaring success. I have been very impressed with how enthusiastic and gung-ho the students have been. There were a few shy moments at the beginning of the week but since then I have seen the students grow in confidence and burst with creativity.

The group is composed of an eclectic mix of students, with some extroverted theatrical types, others who are more studious and reflective, and several that seem to be finding their voice for the first time. Together they make for a wonderful collection of young people who are embracing the opportunity to express who they are as individuals, as students, and as Zanzibaris.

In this respect the program has been fulfilling my personal goal of gaining a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Zanzibar and its young people. Students’ stories have highlighted several ingrained difficulties inherent in their lives. These problems include the ever present threat of malaria, the sad reality that is forced marriage, the endless hardships people face due to poverty, and how many Zanzibaris have been deprived of an education. This latter point is also reflected in students’ overwhelmingly positive attitude towards their own education and engagement in GETheatre’s program. This is an ideal that seems to spring from the realisation that their chance to be educated could be taken from them in a years’ time if they fail their Form 4 exams. Students have expressed a great deal of positivity toward their school, and appreciation towards its teachers. This is in stark contrast to many UK students I have worked with who have often appeared at best ambivalent to school and their studies.

I am eager and energised to get on with the second week of GETZanzibar 2013. The students’ play is taking great shape and I believe it will now go from strength to strength. I know I will feel both proud and humbled on Friday when the play is performed for the final time. I anticipate I will have more than a couple of tears in my eye when I have to say goodbye to the students. I feel I am creating a great rapport with them and I only wish I could spend more time with them, helping them with their studies and learning from them.

-Lianne Bettis

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