By Estefani Gareca, Poverty Activist Team February 2023
A People´s Exam is the last step in the end of each period of our studies. Specifically, for the 12 month Poverty Activist programme with 5 month study & training period, we have 6 different periods with different themes. All of them have very solid topics related to the history and development of the countries in different parts of the worls, offering us an overview of all the problems our world suffers.
We have just concluded our first period called “The Forces that run the World”. During this period, we studied the historical explanation of the discriminations, the power of elites, the social movements, poverty, wars and many other roots of our geopolitical problems. To prepare a People´s Exam is always an intense period where we put all our knowledge together and bring it to the rest of the school in a entertaining way.
First of all, we had a discussion about which topics we wanted to include in the exam, because we had to synthetize a bunch of information into one hour of presentation. We decided to include these ones:
1. Faces of Imperialism
2. Arab Spring
We presented these 3 topics using posters on the wall of the Gaia classroom in a diagram structure. During our studies we had made these posters where we had the opportunity to develop our most creative sides! These were 3 dense topics so we also tried to present them with a game, gathering 5 key words for each one of the topics so the people could guess the words decodifying a morse code we put on the white bord, giving people some clues to make it easier (mostly because of the time). Once the a person decodified a word they had to put it in one of the mentioned topics posted on the wall.
4. Ideal World: Here, we had to draw a poster to show which would be an ideal world for us, considering the political, ideological and cultural sides of each society.
5. Civil Rights & Black Lives Matter: We worked on different reality based stories of segregation and racism around the world. We had the opportunity to dig in different cases around the world, not only of people who suffered racism, but also about movements involved to fight against it.
6. The Headscarf Revolutionaries: This was a big highlight for many of my classmates but unfortunately I didn´t have the opportunity to participate in this course. It was about a group of fishermen´s wives who fought here in Hull for the rights of the workers.
For these three topics, we prepared another game of guessing who was the person that had prepared each one of the posters. It´s actually difficult to find connections between the topics and to get the people involved during the presentation, so using games it´s always a good option. Our brains were quite trained after those amounts of posters!
7. Indigenous People in the Forefront of Fighting to Protect the Natural World: for this topic we had written 8 poems. We then prepared a video with each one of the poems read by each one of us with our own voices, with different pictures connected with indigenous lives, nature and environment. We also made each one of the posters we created for this topic visible on the wall.
In another room, we prepared a second stage to show to the people the investigation we had made about “People´s view of the 4Ms” (Money, Media, Military and Movements). We presented the graphics of the results in a Power Point and a theatre play, showing examples of the response we received during the interviews with people in Hull. Each of us participated explaining a bit how much we dug into each "M" and our conclusions.
We divided it in two performances:
* A muppet theatre, showing the highlights of the survival trip with muppets. This was really funny because we were hidden under the table and we put the scenario moving the muppets while we were narrating a scene of three of us talking about how good we are when we cooperate. All these in a really funny way, I must admit.
* A “human muppet” - we painted our bodies with the “challenging words”, such as “communication”, “language”, “initiative”, “team building”… We wrote the words with a special fluorescent paint and we divided ourselves in 9 scenes in darkness with translucent lights in order to illustrate each one of the challenges we had to face as a team.
It was so nice the process, we worked unified to cover all the windows of the classroom with cardboard and black bags and in 1 hour we created the perfect scenario for both scenes. It was clearly the result of a good teamwork and we were really proud of our efforts and capacity to work together with giving our best.
We had a lot of challenges, for sure, but we are here, all of us, we remain walking this path and it was really beautiful to see each one make the effort to improve together…. sometimes with different rhythm, but that´s something we had to overcome also and I consider we did our best. There is no linear process, in this period neither, but I learned a lot and I am grateful for that.