Rachel Rasmussen teaches grades three and four at Dinjerra Primary School, Braybrook in Melbourne’s outer west. Polyglot has been collaborating with Rachel’s students at Dinjerra for over five years, working on fun and creative arts programs with the kids. Our collaborations with the students are vital and have helped us develop and test Polyglot’s work that is then presented at venues around Australia and the world. Polyglot will work again with the students in 2016 to develop a new theatre work, Cerita Anak (Child’s Story).
Rachel, Polyglot has enjoyed a long relationship with the school as a key collaborator. Can you tell us about the kids at Dinjerra Primary School and their participation in the arts?
At Dinjerra we have children who come to school with very poor literacy and numeracy skills, they have come from interrupted schooling and have been displaced due to violence and war. The kids are very traumatised and have trouble feeling safe at school. Polyglot has really helped these children to have a voice and reclaim their self-expression which is not dependent on reading or writing skills. It’s more about being engaged by living in the moment. The children love and value having the time and space to be creative and finding enjoyment and fun. Through the arts they can be successful and their language skills have improved. It is quite humbling to witness their sense of pride and value returning.
How do the children engage with Polyglot’s work? Have you noticed changes in the children as a result of their interactions with Polyglot’s artists?
The children who are disengaged really value the opportunity to be successful. They love attending the Polyglot sessions and the program has improved their school attendance.
The children’s sense of achievement and self-esteem has also improved. The Polyglot artists are outstanding, they give a lot of love to the kids who really need it. The program is like art therapy and I have witnessed kids come back to the classroom refocused and re-engaged, but most importantly they feel like they are important and valued in the world.
What do the children think about Polyglot’s work when they visit a performance, after having been involved in the development?
The kids love seeing the performances. They feel connected to something that has a global impact. They feel empowered and feel like they can change the world through art.
Do you have a memorable Polyglot experience you can share?
I love the Boats project [precursor to Cerita Anak (Child’s Story)]. It encouraged the children who come from refugee backgrounds to share their experiences and also got them feeling empowered that people understood and cared about their dangerous and frightening journey to Australia. The children loved seeing their work as part of the Boats performance at Federation Square in July this year.
As a teacher would you like to comment on your experience with Polyglot?
I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to Polyglot. My students have really benefited from the care, time and playfulness you have provided them over many years. Because of the company we have had some very sad, heartbroken children come back to school excited by their experiences. They have something to look forward to, something to be proud of and something they feel really inspired about.
Thank you Rachel!
Polyglot is currently raising funds to develop Cerita Anak as part of our Double Your Love for Children’s Theatre appeal. For a limited time, donations to this appeal will be matched dollar for dollar up to a grand total of $30,000, with thanks to Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus1.
Consider yourself a philanthropist and donate this festive season!