-What do you want to be when you grow up?
-When I grow up, I want to be a famous actress!
Constantly immersed in theatre as a kid and a teen, my dreams were big. I wanted to be a successful actress in film and on stage. Upon completing grade 12, I auditioned for many universities, and got accepted to some. However, the one school I had my heart set on wait-listed me. At the same time, I was offered a full scholarship to study at a university in my hometown. I decided to leave my decision in the hands of destiny. If I suddenly got a call letting me know I had been accepted to my chosen theatre school, I would go. If not, I would accept the scholarship.
In September 2004, I began my undergrad degree at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. During my first year, I chose ‘Intro to Anthropology’ as an elective. Four years later, I was graduating with a triple major in Cultural Anthropology, Spanish, and International Development. My dreams had shifted: I had learned about different cultures, languages, ways of living, and I was curious and amazed. But my passion for theatre still burned strong. I was involved in plays, musical theatre, worked for a theatre company in the summers, and was part of a puppet group.
My goal after graduation was to get to Africa. I wanted to volunteer, I wanted to experience diversity, I wanted to grow as a person. Through visualization and seeking out opportunities, my dream soon arrived in the form of a contest to win the volunteer trip of a lifetime to Kenya with Me to We, and a WUSC (World University Service of Canada) internship to Burkina Faso.
My goal of reaching Africa was doubled!
In Burkina Faso, West Africa, in my role as theatre director, my skills as a puppeteer surfaced. I trained the young local theatre troupe in puppetry, script writing and performance, and they did shows for 10 elementary schools in the small town of Léo about HIVS/Aids prevention. I had only just begun to recognize that I could blend my passions for theatre, altruism, and working with children.
A few years later, I started to bring puppets everywhere I went–on my travels, my studies abroad, and different jobs I held. The Puppeteaching Project emerged, as a grassroots project to teach children about themes affecting their lives, such as disease prevention, environmental education, and social issues. Today, The Puppeteaching Project has reached three continents and a multitude of communities, inspiring social change among youth, and spreading educational messages throughout schools.
The Puppeteaching Project brings together the worlds of theatre, puppets, creative writing, music, and performance. The project engages in a participatory approach, directly involving the children in the writing and production of a puppet show, including skill-building in the art of puppetry and the making of puppets. The magic of puppets are that they break down barriers and reach children in a way that adults cannot. Difficult topics can be addressed through puppetry in a way that makes sense to young minds.
The Puppeteaching Project offers young people skills beyond acting; it aims to improve their self-awareness and self-confidence, build their leadership skills, and offer them dynamic techniques for interaction and team work. The project intends to provide the participants with a sense of self-worth, identity, community, and belonging.
By now you must be wondering: “How can I be a part of this amazing project?” You can absolutely help us make a difference, and here’s how:
We are looking for:
- video editors
- web designers
- puppet donations
- professional photographers
- funding for projects and new puppets
- partnership opportunities with schools and organizations
- creative minds and innovative people!
For more info on our programs, shows and workshops, visit us at: http://www.puppeteaching.wix.com/2014 & www.facebook.com/puppeteaching
We have completed some awesome puppeteaching projects around the world, and we’re slowly growing, touching more and more young lives with the magic of puppets. Also check out our photos, videos, and even interviews on Mexican TV here:
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So what do I want to be when I grow up?
-I want to be a Puppeteer! A Performer! A Project Leader! A Teacher! A Facilitator! I want to inspire change and make a difference! I want to lead a meaningful life serving others, educating children and fulfilling my purpose!
What do you want to be?