“What would happen if someone came into your school and told you that you had to move to another school and you would not be allowed to come back here ever again?” was the question posed to fifth graders at Lura Sharp Elementary when members of the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse visited the school recently.
The scenario was similar to what is happening on the Amazon River in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest.
The Brazilian government is attempting to build the Belo Monte Hyrdroelectric Dam that will flood all the land occupied by the Ticuna Tribe, who has lived in the region for thousands of years.
The hypothetical scenario set up the fifth grade students to think about how they would feel if what is happening in Brazil happened in their town.
The MGR Players, Courtney Cook, Kirsten Salpini, Stephen Falla and Scott Duell, talked about the pros and cons of building the dam and about the impact of that project on their own lives and the interconnectivity that would be felt across the world.
They also talked about what each individual can do to help conserve resources and that a single individual can make a difference in the world. They talked about ways to save energy, recycle, reuse, and ways to make their home, their school, and their community more “green friendly.”
After the individual classroom talks, the fifth graders moved to the auditorium for the production of Emilia and the Heart of the Amazon.
The play features a ten-year-old girl, Emilia, who travels with her father to Brazil to join their mother, a conservation scientist.
Along the way, Emilia’s father becomes ill and she ventures into the jungle guided by a special Morpho butterfly, to find a Cinchona tree whose bark and leaves could save his life.
During her journey to find the tree she meets a pair of spider monkeys, a jaguar, and a Ticuna boy, who along with the butterfly teach her the wisdom and heart of the Amazon.
When she encounters the construction crew building a hydroelectric dam that will destroy much of the jungle and those who live there, she understands how important her mother’s work is to preserve the rainforest.