Theater, music and dance combined in a five-day program entitled "Express Yourself Without Words", at Sawy Culture Wheel last week. Trainers from Spain and Germany led the program.
The workshop focuses on getting children to use alternative methods to express their emotions. “You have a body, a voice, use these things you forget you have,” said Carolina, one of the trainers. The group uses trust exercises like the human knot game, “This game makes us trust ourselves and each other more,” said Mostafa Asaad, a 12-year old participant.
By day four of the workshop, the children were given 20 minutes to come up with a short performance. “The students staged a street scene, which was really interesting and creative,” said Marisol, one of the trainers. They successfully enacted a busy every day scene in the streets of Cairo, filled with the noise of cars, pedestrians fighting and the sound of the azan (the call to prayer) in the background.
“This is a new approach to self expression,” said Mohamed al-Sawy, head of Sawy Cultural Wheel. He believes that a child who is capable of expressing himself freely will grow up into an adult who can do the same.
This is also a new experience for the trainers who have been friends since college. Together they developed the program and offered it to the Sawy Cultural Wheel. The motivating idea was to promote communication within groups who don't share a common language. “People forget they have body language which can help to bridge the gap between different cultures,” said Marisol.
The trainers found their experience in Egypt more fun than similar programs in Europe because these kinds of activities are new to the students, which means people have fewer expectations and are more flexible. Olga, a third trainer, told Al-Masry Al-Youm, “Children were coming everyday with a huge thirst and energy for whatever activities were on offer.”
Some parents were excited because the workshop gives their children more self-confidence. “My daughter is so shy, I brought her here to increase her self confidence,” said Nahla Gebini, mother of 12-years old Salma.
Other parents took their children to the program without any expectations at all. “I want my child to do something other than just going out to buy food, so I like to register him in as many activities as possible,” said Nermine Nhar, mother of eight-year old Ali.
The workshop consisted of 22 children aged six to 16 and cost LE100 for registration.
For the trainers it's a learning experience too. Marisol explained, "We learn far more from working with children than adults, as children are so full of creativity and energy.”