Wallace Middle School art teacher Adrienne Simes proved during Spring Break that a love of art is a universal language.
During Spring Break in mid-March, Simes joined former Negley Elementary art teacher Amy Cigainero in Brazil where they taught art to a small group of students in Rocinha, a local favela, or a low-income neighborhood, in Rio de Janeiro. Cigainero left Hays CISD two years ago to teach elementary art in Rio.
While visiting Cigainero, the duo opted to continue their pursuit of offering art instruction to areas of the world where it might not be accessible.
Simes said public schools in Rio are unable to offer art classes to students. Students who attend schools in low-income areas have even less access to materials and instruction.
“Offering an art class after the regular school hours provided a safe and welcoming space for students who would normally be in the streets after school and gave them a place they can foster their creativity and express themselves,” Simes said.
Simes added the experience was an opportunity to provide a service for the students and leave the location a little better than when she arrived.
While students gained insight into the world of art, Simes equally learned from the students as well. During her time in Rio, Simes improved her understanding of culture in Rio and the favelas and worked on improving her Portugese, which is the native language in Brazil.
Meanwhile, students learned new techniques in art, while also practicing their own language skills.
“Teaching art to students in other countries benefits the students, as well as it strengthens the teaching skills of the teacher,” Simes said.
Teaching art abroad is not a new hobby for Simes or Cigainero.
Over the past few years, the two have spent their summer breaks in Central American countries such as Nicaragua and Costa Rica where they instructed local students.
Sharing her passion for teaching and love of art with children around the world is something that Simes said she strives for every time she travels abroad.
“Despite cultural barriers such as language, it is clear that art transcends all and is a true universal language,” Simes said.