Physical distance, social connection: Our collaboration with Mumbai, India

This week we’re launching the Fable Street Project – a collaboration with a speech and drama institute in Mumbai, India!

Fable Street is run by Ritika Shah, a creative teacher who is passionate about providing a fun speech and drama experience for children in Mumbai.

Ritika and I met a few years ago via – wait for it – Instagram! Ritika found the Viva Voice page and was excited to see a speech and drama studio operating in Sydney. Since then, she and I have kept in touch, excited to see the activities and events each other’s students have undertaken.

When Viva went online in March this year, Ritika saw our updates on Instagram and reached out to find out how we’d done it. By that stage, the Viva teachers had run a series of trial classes, experimented with different platforms and had landed on our preferred way to conduct online classes. With so much knowledge already gathered, it made sense to share the learning with Ritika and her team at Fable Street. They successfully transitioned to online classes a few weeks after our conversation!

Both our studios have faced unique circumstances this year, presented with challenges we never could have imagined. But those challenges have presented some surprising opportunities.

As we shared our tales of how best to deliver online classes, what activities worked best online, and the new skills our students were learning, we realised our studios had more in common than not.

It was at that point that we realised we could encourage a collaboration between our students.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Viva students in Sydney could connect with the Fable Street students in Mumbai?

Would they be surprised to discover that speech and drama exists in another country?

What if they had the chance to hear about what lockdown was like in a different part of the world?

Could this be an opportunity to introduce our students to new authors, new materials, and embark on a cultural exchange?

Fast forward to now, and we’re excited to launch the collaboration!

Some of the Viva students have chosen a poem by Australian author Max Fatchen for the Fable Street students to learn.

Fable Street students have chosen a poem by Indian author Radhika Chadha for the Viva students to learn.

The poems capture a sense of Indian and Australian cultures, and provide an opportunity for students to learn about another country’s customs, traditions and lifestyle.

Using videos, the students will share their explorations of the poems, as well as have the opportunity to ask each other questions – about anything! They’ll share their experiences of speech and drama, the art of conversation and communication, and life in lockdown in Mumbai and Sydney.

For now, we’ve chosen our Year 5 – 6 Voice and Acting™ students to collaborate with a select group of Fable Street students. It will be a special project for them and could lead to other collaborations with Fable Street for other ages.

We are very excited for our students to connect and learn from each other in this unique way. It’s an opportunity that has only come about because of the unique circumstances we find ourselves living through, and we’re looking forward to seeing where this collaboration leads!

Introducing the project

Viva students introduce themselves

Viva introduces ‘Took the Children Away’

Fable Street introduces ‘A Well is Born’

Fable Street says hello and answers some questions!

Viva responds