Since graduating from the Austin College Anthropology and Theatre programs, I’ve joined the Peace Corps in Madagascar as a TEFL certified English teacher. During my first 2 years of service, I taught English to over 400 middle and high school students in the highlands of Madagascar and took part in many secondary projects including: massive tree-planting in partnership with the local teachers and military; sensitizing highland civilians about the dangers of malaria in their native language of Malagasy; training local teachers on new techniques to bolster foreign language acquisition; and enhancing communities’ resources through obtaining more books and technology and by painting world maps.
I managed to use the skills I acquired from AC when I planned, sought funding, and implemented my own theatre project with the troupe I helped form alongside my own high school students. The project consisted of creating an interactive theatre performance that simultaneously taught about malaria symptoms and its prevention, and toured it in 5 different communities reaching over 3,000 host country nationals. Thereafter, in extending a third year of service with the Peace Corps I became director of community engagement and project partnership with the theatre-for-development NGO, Zara Aina. Founded by Broadway actors, the NGO offers youth from disadvantaged backgrounds and at-risk students a platform to communicate and become active members of their community and the larger society through the many levels of theatre training such as public performance and character development, among other skills that they can apply in their regular lives.
As my time in Madagascar wanes to a conclusion, I look forward to continuing my anthropology studies in graduate school and looking for other theatre practitioners around the world fighting social injustices through the ephemeral effect of theatre.