By Andreia Marques
A year and a half ago, when I returned to Portugal from Brazil, I was so motivated and enthusiastic about the experience I’d lived during the 9 months I worked for Intituto Elos, that what I wanted most was for the people around me to live or feel, firsthand, at least a small part of what I experienced.
It took me eight months to finally implement what I had learned, even though I didn’t know exactly how!
I know today, nevertheless, that these experiences and transformations were, as much as I have wanted to share with others, just my own. I realized that each of us has our own pace and time to get to the places we need and that these places are not necessarily the same for everyone.
I received a gift, however, that could be shared, expanded, disseminated – the Oasis Game.
The truth is that I had never even participated in an Oasis from beginning to end. And although the methodology was, in theory, well integrated in me, I had no idea what I could do to disseminate it in Portugal – my home country. What saved me was my belief that “life is something good.” And perhaps this is, after all, is the main path of Yes!
I learned then that opportunities are tiny invisible windows that change our life from the moment we decide to climb through them, willing to accept what is on the other side.
In November 2011 I met Ana Albergaria during my first swimming lesson – I had a dream of learning to swim and unknowingly through the realization of a dream I ended up materializing another one.
Ana, between one lap and another, would talk about the adventure and daily challenges of being a primary school teacher for about 20 nine-year-old children of a school in Musgueira, a community here in Lisbon, Portugal. During my pauses to breath, I would listen to her stories and feel her energy, as I usually do whenever I meet someone for the first time.
There’s a saying that says great minds think alike. I couldn’t agree more! The proof is that before realizing it, Ana and I started to dream together about an Oasis.
In December I went to elementary school number 34 EB 1 for the first time. I was with Natasha Gabriel Mendes on that day, who was traveling to work in Guinea Bissau and had a layover in Lisbon for a few hours. She informed me, she wouldn’t be able to come help me put this dream to practice. And I, who had learned to swim in the previous month, realized it was time to learn how to fly. I felt, since I have no memory of ever having been a bird, like a bird starting to fly for the first time. Without a safety net to break my fall, I flapped my imaginary wings and flew! Otherwise, how would I have avoided falling sprawled on the floor!?
From there, I started creating a custom-made Oasis along with Ana and other friends who supported us throughout the process. We’ve distributed 8 days of the methodology throughout 8 weeks, since this was the time the school made available to us. And we flowed at the rate of the children.
Of course we encountered many challenges besides having only one hour available to us every one and a half weeks. But this was our Oasis and the wonder of Oasis is also this: the dream is what we want it to be.
We were learning by doing! Discovering and improvising, according to the resources we had, with the support the school gave us and guided by our intuition.
It was an 8 weeks of surprises. We did all the steps with the children like homework, and in the end we built a beautiful butterfly garden.
We really played the game of changing the world and today, having already participated in another Oasis here in Portugal, we continue to dream of many more. I believe, every day, that this is a flexible tool that will adapt to what we want it to be and the reality of each place, culture, and group! Just like a game in real life.