I presented this talk on ‘Social Inclusion through Capoeira’ at the American University of Beirut (AUB) on the 5th of May of 2011 in partnership with Volta ao Mundo (VAM); an NGO founded by Sobreviventes Capoeira School’s members in Lebanon. Sociology Professor Randa Serhan, from the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) was our contact at AUB and gave me many insights during the discussion section that followed the talk. The talk brought together capoeiristas, scholars and diplomats. Despite belonging to small community our Lebanese counterparts seem to be already struggling with matters of authenticity and purism, what made them even more interested and participative. Obrigado a todos pela participação.
Along with matters of authenticity and purism I presented the commercial rationale behind the global diffusion of the art as the main hindrances when tackling an emancipatory education and social inclusion endeavors. (Some of these issues were briefly summarized in the slideshow above to be shared.) VAM is still a young organization but already has a solid experience targeting youth with diverse difficulties from their tough walks of life. Such experience added a lot to the debate. Professor Randa, as I mentioned above, made great contributions and critics that will definitely be taken on board.
Another interesting demand of the audience was towards the inclusion of people with special needs. Autistic and Down syndrome kids seemed to be the focus of their questions. Again, in great part, due to VAMs programs and respective difficulties with such students, but also due to the interest of the wider audience. Finally, part of the audience was interested more specifically in how Capoeira promotes the inclusion of children and youngsters, but these issues were tackled in a workshop at Houna Centre, in which we discussed them further.
Being with Sobreviventes/VAM in Lebanon was definitely a rich experience. More than that, it was very inspiring to see young students and instructors going about social development since from the beginning of their involvement with Capoeira. This will certainly improve the standards of the next generations of capoeiras.
If you would like to know more about their programmes and approach to Capoeira visit their website and stay tuned to VAM’s Newsletter! It’s really worth it!