Argentina: through the hoops to find meaningful work

Friday, March 05, 2010

Nadia Carolina Ayala talks about how a CREAS circus school helped her escape “torturous” work in a bar.

“My name is Nadia Carolina Ayala, I am 22 years old and I’ve been taking part in the Social Circus of the South (a Creas partner) since I was 13.  One day, when I went to fetch my elder brother who was taking classes, Mariana, one of the teachers, invited me in, and next moment I was up on a trapeze.

"Since then I haven’t stopped. I’ve been through all the stages – pupil, pupil assistant and teacher. Last year they gave us a course in training of trainers where we learned to systematise what we knew in practice, so as to teach what we had learned over the years and to make this my profession and my work.

“Although the first thing I did was the trapeze, afterwards I was more interested in acrobatics on canvas and last year I jumped with hoops. But to teach, you must learn to do all of it.

“The circus is everything to me. Although I finished secondary school with some subjects pending this is my life. Of course, I have done other work, as a waitress, in a bingo hall in a coastal city, but it was torture.

“I live in Barracas, in the neighbourhood known as Villa 21. When I was a girl, my mother would not let me out of the house. Without doubt, the good thing about the neighbourhood was the circus.

"The many things I do in the large shed where the circus now functions include sewing the canvas, setting up the seats, fixing some of the costumes and making preparations for a show. My mother told me that when she was pregnant with me she spent her time sewing. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much.

“I give circus classes to adolescents in very poor neighbourhoods and, sometimes, to children aged between four and six who accompany their older brothers and sisters to the workshop. I was also able to go with a mate to give classes to street children at the Constitución railway station. That was a great experience.

“While the activities centre on what the circus is, another fundamental part of the teaching concerns the need for each to respect the other. There are children who come for a while, perhaps because of violent situations where they live so they want to spend a bit of time here.  We try to get them to respect each other, not to insult each other or make fun of others.

“The circus is my life, I was raised in this school, I help in this school, and I teach here and hope to live from this.”