What is like to be a SOMA mentor by Rosa Briz
The decision to grab my backpack and embark on this 6 months adventure with SOMA was one of the best decisions of my life. Of course I had butterflies in my stomach and sleepless nights before going... even though i knew that when i returned everything was going to be the same, it's inevitable not to think about all the important things we're going to miss. All this fear and apprehension is typical of those who are about to step out of their comfort zone.
If I had to sum up my experience with SOMA in one word, in fact, two words would be transformative and uncomfortable. A culture like the Santomean culture is transformative and shows us lessons for life. At first it will seem that we are slowing down, falling behind. But then we realize the wonders of a calm and unhurried life, centered around simplicity. In São Tomé it seems that everything is made with love.
The nature in São Tomé makes us feel breathless because of how huge and beautiful it is. For me the most special place of the island is Santana, where SOMA's house is located. It's special because that's where my heart stayed. The heart of this village is the Surf Club, everything revolves around surfing and the sea. It is the sea that governs, feeds and nourishes this community.
It was in Santana that my adventure with the 30 SOMAS began. SOMAS are all different and unique, however they all made me laugh everyday and showed me how special they are. The connection I created with all of them was very natural, in addition to being my students, they also became my teachers. With them I learned to dance, cook, surf, have fun like a child and I also learned what it is to have a strong attitude and the courage to take life on your shoulders.
It was incredible to see that the work we do is a catalyst for positive change. Many girls didn’t know how to swim and ended up catching waves on their own. Many gained more study rhythm and exponentially improved their grades. Many had difficulty in expressing themselves and after a lot of training they showed greater confidence in public. Many learned to decode their feelings and share their views on the world. But for me the most important thing was the fact that they created a real group where respect and trust were valued. Thus gaining two of the most important things for a happy life, knowledge and friends.
Above all else SOMA made me realize that YES, it is worth crossing the world to help fight inequalities of opportunity in education. We must fight so that all children have the opportunity to play, be creative, and be intellectually stimulated, because only then will they will be able to find their natural talent, and I believe that we all have a special talent ready to show to the world.
I wanted to thank all my students who showed me that even by weighing 20kg they can carry 15L of water. This served as a metaphor for me, we are stronger and braver than we appear and think <3