A Look at the Portuguese World


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The storyteller of vera cruz

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Marilene Ferraz develops its educational activity at the Cultural Center Brazil-Green Cape, an institution that promotes Brazilian culture through books, films and teaching of brazilian Portuguese, in this African archipelago. She is also an author of children's literature with Cape Verdean themes and a storyteller.

Explain to me how a Brazilian goes to Green Cape to teach?
Marilene Ferraz: What led me to Cape Verde was the heart. There was a Cape Verdean in my journalism course, got married and went there. I'm 27 years in this country, my background is journalism, but my first vocation is the primary teaching. Education for me is very important, in Green Cape I discovered the readings of Almicar Cabral who were more advanced in terms of thoughts than in Brazil, which only thinks so now with the Lula government, that education is the fastest way to social mobility. In this African country that is a reality of everyday life and even looks like a magic, a person can be very poor and twelve years later be a person who has a job, or obtaining a degree and be well in life. I worked the first 10 years as a journalist in the social area and education, then spent another ten teaching in the second largest high school in the country, not Portuguese, but a discipline that can be called citizenship education. It was through this experience of teaching I met the country through its young people, who are kind, respectful, workers and an education reminiscent of the 50s with this naive soul. Later went to work in the direction of the Brazil-Green Cape Cultural Center, which is an institution of the Brazilian government, where I am official site here. At the time when I did not know how to work with culture, because it was not my area and had few resources, so we decided to invest in education and that's what made the difference. Today, the Portuguese is the most active activity of the center, "Itamaraty" sends me books and movies that have a Cape Verdean public that consumes it, every thursday we have Brazilian cinema, for six years without stopping, of course, when there is comedy appears more people, if the film has globo network actors have full house and also we take the films to schools or local institutions. We taught also Portuguese in jails and to migrants from Guine who never learned Portuguese in their country, in the head of Lusophone learning Portuguese from Brazil has less risky, they can make mistakes, so it's less complex to speak Brazilian rather than Portuguese of Portugal that generates such a serious commitment because they are afraid.

But you bet especially in childhood?
MF: If you want an adult consumer of culture, but never thought that had to be formed since childhood. We're doing that, going to schools, we have a project called literary case that opens like a bookcase and we spent a morning at school, first with the storytelling and then we provided the book. It's crazy, even the children who can not read see the images after exchanging books and has been a very good experience. We also received schools in the cultural center, has become our calling card, storytelling and trifling workshop, which is playing singing a song that also tells a tale. Then we also have trained kindergarten monitors, because in Green Cape are still scarce the professionals to work with children, so we bet in that training. This year we will start two pilot projects, one on the primary and one with kindergarten, are going to work in three public institutions that are on the periphery, where the storytelling is not enough. We start a project of creative writing with basic education, is something we have done five years, a workshop for children aged 6 to 12 years old and have had a wonderful result because we publish internally "my first book" . The last activity of a child is to produce a poetry of their own, we work with "limericks", which is a process that was born in Britain and in Brazil was very worked by Tatiana Belinky which is a Russian who grew up in Brasil. Children learn through limeriques, as it gave much result we have four editions of children's books, the kids take to the house or school in order to improve the relationship of Cape Verdean students with reading the Portuguese language and we keep an issue.

It is good that foques this issue, because in educational terms, the Cape Verdean children learn creole at home, but when they go to school are literate in Portuguese and this creates a gap in terms of learning, which causes a negative rate reproach in terms of examination results for Portuguese.
MF: Yes. Creole is the mother tongue they hear since they are in the belly of their mothers, they build their whole life until six years of age in that language. When they arrive at primary school they are literate in Portuguese, because many children have not heard it before, especially those living in rural areas. They only hear what they see in Brazilian soap operas, inclusive, what we have noticed that the children and the teachers do not speak good Portuguese and speak Brazilian, because they think it is not a Portuguese language and talking to my students that I help for the exam of portuguese language to be able to apply to higher education in Brazil, I found that even the girls play with barbies build Brazilian narratives and I asked why? Not because they are missing literature and storytelling in Portuguese, but because they learn storytelling through Brazilian soap opera. You can do a study, why it is that the Portuguese speaking children, not Brazilian, play on Brazilian with their dolls?

You focuses also the issue of books, the activity of the reading chest, they are in creole or Portuguese?
MF: They are in Portuguese, because there is no children's books in creole, not yet. There was no children's books with Cape Verdean theme until 2000.

But you also highlighted that there are few books in Portuguese and that there should be a greater exchange of literature between countries of the lusophony.
MF: Yes, it's a logistics problem.

The Brazilian book market works internally, but does not have the idea of export.
MF: No, I do not know how is the marketing to other countries, because internally it is simply, there are 200 million people. In Brazilian schools, the last 10 years, the textbook market is renewed at least 3 in 3 years, in that time period are produced 60 million books, just for one discipline in the end has at least 300 million circulating books and this is the number of almost all the Portuguese-speaking market, so Brazil just works internally. The country was always closed in on itself, because it is very large, but with the economic improvement the Brazilian traveled and began to consume the world, not just Miami. The other day I was surprised by Brazilians who went to Green Cape to know Africa, have not reached the mainland, the islands speak the same language, one must know the other countries for the Brazilian market also start consuming.

It was also why you decided to write children's stories, because of this lack of children's literature in Green Cape?
MF: Children's literature with Cape Verdean theme, with a black child with flat nose, because I once shocked me with a situation and that's what led me to write, I do not consider myself a writer which is strange, I decided to write because there was a book that children used was the story of a beautiful bathroom and a white boy and I thought how can you put a book like that for children who do not have a toilet at home? I decided to write literature with a Green Cape face, because I think when the person is recognized in history, even if it's fantasy becomes easier and they like it more. Some of them were ordered, asked me to make history on a thematic, for example, a bank that wanted to teach children to save and I wrote a story about it, it goes "en passant" is there, but is not the main concept. When you produce your owns prints of a book and sells, you do not win enough to pay what you invested, then, when there is a commission they distribute it for free, it is easier, the last work I did was for the presidency, it was for children to understand what was the constitution.

Despite all the fantasy, life in Green Cape is very hard.
MF: Yes, it is very real, even though the children have the traditional tales. But, we need to fantasize, not only for the children of Green Cape, allows them to create an proctetor shield to deal with major trauma because they will always have to have it in life. Fantasy is good because it helps the child to grow and enter into reality without great pain.

So what are the new challenges for these small African nations? Taking into account your experience in education with more than ten years.
MF: I think the big challenge is to educate children in a more loving way without gadgets. Today parents find even in Green Cape that smartphones, tablets are important to educate, but I think kids need to do is tell stories that are nearby. Today you ask a Cape Verdean child to tell me a story, they do not know, tells parts, tells a joke that is adult thing, why? Because in their childhood no one did it and I think that not only does the Cape Verdean child, because this is globalized. The country is an archipelago where the world goes thru and therefore has access to everything, but this basic thing of skin, eye contact is also ending because parents have more consumption capacity and that thing of the grandmother who had history disappeared. A local school has that, but as a curricular activity, ceased to be natural, even though someone remembered to do this. Green Cape has two rhythms have a lot to be done and has the other side where it has reached the modern world, the Cape Verdean young have more access to all kinds of technology, than a young Brazilian. You have technological squares with internet access for free, everybody is connected, but not really.

You think that books will disappear physically?
MF: Not at all. There is already that talk for twenty years ago when the new technology began, if it were to disappear was already gone, because there is always that pleasure from a child when they touch the book and to see the design is still very intense. I do not want to believe it because it is a lobby of technology companies, but nothing can replace the pleasure of playing, flipping through, how to look and relate is not the same as a tablet. The book is very good and the book industry has been following the trend because children's books are increasingly beautiful, with drawings in 3 dimensions, smelling figueres and distinctive ring and are following so much so that there is also a range of coloring book for adults.

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