About the Project
In 2005, Vaga Lume Association created the Net Project with the aim of promoting intercultural dialogue among teenagers (from 11 to 14 years of age) from rural communities in the Legal Amazon – whether quilombolas, indigenous, riverside or rural settlements – and São Paulo state in the southeast, the most industrialized and economically developed region of Brazil.
The idea behind the Net Project is to promote cultural diversity, respect and awareness while stimulating teenagers’ reading and writing skills. Its actions take place in public and private schools libraries, as well as in non-profit organizations that promote non-formal education.
The Vaga Lume Project’s main activity is ensuring continuous contact between students from rural schools in the Amazon with either students of urban schools or teenagers benefiting from the work of social institutions in São Paulo.
During one-year cycles, the teenagers, educators and institutions involved, allocated in pairs of institutions – one from the Amazon and one from Sao Paulo – discuss the topic “Us and Our Environment”.
This intercultural dialogue involves the following activities:
– Material production: Assisted by their educators, who are trained by Vaga Lume staff, students write letters and produce crafts about their culture, environment and routine, which are exchanged with their counterpart institution/school.
There are three main topics for such productions:
– Material Exchanging: Each institution sends the material produced by its educators and students to the Vaga Lume headquarters. There, the material from all institutions is reproduced for Vaga Lume’s files and the original is sent to the partner institution.
Once each institution receives its counterpart material, students and educators involved share the work with other students, parents and educators. This activity is fundamental for the results of the project since it is the opportunity to give wider visibility and access to the material produced by the partner institution and, consequently, to a broader discussion of cultural differences within Brazil.
The institution may decide the best way to present the materials received: this could be through an exhibition, a lecture or a cultural event. Educators and students may record the event so as to discuss the experience and reactions of the public towards the intercultural dialogue that took place between institutions at a later date.
– Integration Camp: After three rounds of material exchanged, some students and educators representing all participant institutions meet in person at a so-called Vaga Lume Integration Camp where they present their regional culture, education and environment specificities in a variety of forms.
During the seven-day Camp, the students participate in diverse activities. In Environmental Conferences they present the work discussed and produced between pairs of institutions to the other participants. There are also opportunities for cultural presentations, for which the students may prepare a traditional cultural expression of their hometown or region.
Vaga Lume, based on the ideas of the Polish-Jewish educator Korczak, creates an environment where teenagers are autonomous and empowered. In the Integration Camp, students are also responsible for the creation of rules and for solving ordinary day-by-day problems. This imposes a need for interaction among teenagers from distinct cultural backgrounds, stimulating their cooperation and mutual respect.
– Educational Committees Meetings: There are a few educational committee meetings throughout the year: here, groups of educators gather with Vaga Lume staff for training and the discussion of activities and methodologies related to the Net Project.
During the meetings, Vaga Lume staff prepare important materials to be discussed with the participants, such as the presentation of the selected institutions and their division into pairs, the annual schedule of the ongoing cycle, the topics and subtopics to be discussed by the students of each institution and between the pairs, and the exchange of the experiences of each institution.