Shakespeare Transforms the Life of a Young Migrant From Zimbabwe

Dawn Sanders recounts the story of a child migrant from Zimbabwe (she’s now a teenager) who recited her poignant poem for the ‘What You Will’ evening at the recent National Shakespeare Schools Production week.

The poem’s based on her feelings at the age of seven of being a ‘stranger on foreign land (NZ)’, then going back later to visit relations in Zimbabwe where again she felt like a stranger in a foreign land. 

A stranger no longer

Having completed the nine-day Shakespeare course, she remarked: ‘To be amongst a group of people similar to my own age who are so whole-heartedly accepting of everything that I am and of everything that I have to say is something which I am going to cherish forever.

‘The manner in which we watched or listened so intently to each person’s performance really demonstrated to me how much we all valued each other and cared for one another. 

‘I have never felt more comfortable in myself than when I was up there in front of that group of people; I was just so comfortable with being myself … reaching that level of comfortability as a person who is often very anxious.’

Young people are far more open to delving into Shakespeare to discuss and explore the complexities of life — while the parents who suffered boring, pedantic, meaningless readings of the Bard’s words, can often not understand how their teenagers are finding his works so beneficial and enjoyable.

Shakespeare’s plays and poems empower

From some 5000 in Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ’s Regional and National Festivals, 48 students are selected for its National Shakespeare Schools Production, an intensive week filled with workshops and rehearsals, culminating in two public performances of scenes from three of Shakespeare plays, edited to 40 minutes from each.

(There are also 2 songs from the Singing Workshop and Waiata and Haka) 

It’s empowering to master these beautifully poetical plays and poems.

More importantly, they save lives as young people gather face-to-face to share their ideas and perform to enthusiastic audiences. And so they transform their negative sense of self to life-changing positivity.

A design competition winner wrote: “[SGCNZ’s programmes have] changed my life and made me believe in myself and my dreams.”

Long live Will.

  • Dawn Sanders ONZM, QSM
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