Monday, July 30, 2012

Intern Spotlight: Zoe Travis

This week the Intern Spotlight shines on Zoe Travis.  Zoe is our Program Intern from Smith College through the Praxis program and a Brooklyn native.

Zoe stands tall at her first stilt lesson.
            I think it took me about five minutes to apply to be a Bond Street intern after reading the mission statement. This company uses theatre for healing and empowerment, has traveled all over the world and clearly has fun while doing it.  I read through the website in awe; I finally found the theatre super heroes I always dreamt about.
Let’s go back a couple of years. In high school, I spent at least four hours a day in acting class. I am so grateful for these hours: while I struggled to understand a character, I gained a profound understanding of myself.  After four years of playing characters who possessed a confidence that I admired, I snagged those qualities and made them my own. I graduated high school a noticeably different person, and a walking example of the power of theatre.
           Fast-forward three years, and I am sitting in a cozy, hard working think tank of an office, full of people who work to use the power of theatre around the world. As I sat across from Joanna for our first meeting, I knew that this would not be your typical internship- I would really contribute to the work of Bond Street, and really feel like a member of the team (or even family).
         The Bond Street office is a fascinating place. Even though we are all sitting in a circle and can easily swivel our chairs to have an impromptu meeting- I like to think about how all of our minds are somewhere else in the world. Every day I walk into the office, and try to immerse myself in Afghan culture as much as virtually possible.
Michael, Darielle, and Zoe pose
on BOND Street!
My current assignment is to write a proposal that would fund Bond Street’s Afghan Women’s Prison Project, a sustainable theatre program in women’s prisons in Afghanistan. The more I learn about the status of women in Afghanistan, the more committed I am to this project. While reading interviews of incarcerated women or writing the problem statement, I find myself becoming extremely overwhelmed or frustrated. There are so many layers to this problem; it’s hard to believe that any change is possible. I expressed this to Olivia, who I’m sure has experienced this many times, and she gave me great advice: to remember that the reason we are studying the problem is because we are proposing a solution. When I imagine the women in prison learning how to walk on stilts, or juggle, or performing plays that tell their stories- it’s hard not to smile. That’s what keeps me writing.
Ambling down Broadway.
   Everything we do here will one day be sent to a completely different culture across the world. When Michael taught me to walk on stilts, I was so nervous, had many self-doubts, and thought it would take me forever to walk on my own. Two hours later, Michael and I were strolling down Broadway, a couple feet higher than everyone else on the street. Even though they won’t be walking down Broadway, I know that I am sharing that initial sense of fear and then sense of accomplishment with hundreds of people around the globe. When Joanna demonstrated different acrobat tricks, and then said “your turn!” I always thought, “There is no way”. After she showed me each step, I gave it a try, and surprised myself each time.
I continue to realize that I am more capable than I thought, and that’s exactly what I wish for the women in Afghanistan. It’s incredible that by going to work to the same place each day, I continue to feel connected to people all over the world in a variety of ways. I look forward to the coming weeks at Bond Street- there is so much left to learn, and so many more exciting projects to work on. I like to think that this is the summer when I am learning how to use my theatre powers for good, and from the real super heroes themselves. 

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