Finding my place at Projeto Guri


I always get pictures in my head when I’m about to go somewhere. I imagine what the places are going to look like, what they smell like, how I will feel and how the people are going to act. This time, I went totally blank.

Before traveling to Brazil, a lot of people asked me what it is that I’m going to do here. I’m going to work with music, I said. I really didn’t know a lot more than that. Considering this being the first time JM Norway send people on an exchange to Brazil, there was a very limited amount of information to pull out from them as well. “Go to Brazil and do what you do best”, was more or less the message. And it turned out that the people receiving us in Brazil, knew even less than the ones sending us over.

Now that I have been living here for a month, I am more and more getting a hang of the brilliancy of this uncertainty. Going abroad without a specific set of plans, makes me a lot more receptive and open minded. It makes me search for opportunities, and it triggers my creativity.

Nikolai and I spent the first weeks of our stay getting to know the inside and the outside of Projeto Guri. I am realizing how crucial it is for us to know the organization as well as possible, in order to be able to contribute in a positive way. Now that we are here to talk and to observe, we can see what is working, and what is not. What we can teach them, and what we can learn. And there is a lot to learn.

Projeto Guri is an organization filled with energy, that has simply figured out the gains of having a positive environment. By only offering free lessons, the organization is able to give all children the same opportunities of musical education. I am happy to see how engaged and committed the teachers are during the lessons, and how this inspires the students. It is overwhelming how welcoming they all are, and how openly the staff invites us to make our way into the organization with new impulses, and other views on how to work with music.  This is going to be exciting!

This whole idea of not knowing what to do and what to expect was for sure a bit frightening in the beginning. The concept of the exchange forces us to be creative and to figure out how our qualities can be useful in an already well established organization. Now that I am here, ideas start popping up in my head, and I am having a hard time choosing which ones I want to work on. I am guessing JM Norway knew this would happen all along.

So there, still no answer to what I will be doing here. But it is slowly coming into shape. FullSizeRender-2

Ellen-Martine Gismervik
Ellen-Martine Gismervik

Ellen-Martine is a 23 year old cellist from Karmøy, where she grew up in a big family of eight. After graduating high school, Ellen-Martine gained her bachelor – plus one extension year – at the University of Stavanger, mainly focusing on classical cello. The recent year she’s been working as a freelance musician interrupted by a three-months stay in Pondicherry, India, attending a one semester study program in Peace and Conflict studies. Having such a good experience abroad Ellen-Martine is really excited about her nine-months exchange to Brazil, getting to know a new culture and its music. Being a night animal, she has always had difficulties getting into bed in the evening. Maybe now, staying on different continent and in a different time zone, things will finally straighten up?

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