Go for a very special trip as a Carnival Volunteer in Rio and participate in the preparations at Samba School. Therefore you will experience Carnival from inside, where the preparations and rehearsals are beginning already several months before Carnival.
Since love and passion for Samba makes everyone equal, at Carnival people leave all economic and social boundaries behind.
The Carnival project allows volunteers to join the preparations and embrace the hard work involved in preparing for one of biggest parties on earth!
Samba schools competing in Carnival have a full year of intense work to prepare the many costumes, floats music and dances for the celebration and volunteers help some of the leading Samba schools in the creation of costumes or decoration of floats.
Volunteers do not need to have any experience in costume or stage design, just a willingness to work hard.
Samba schools are born from the local favelas (urban slums) and most of the schools take their names from the community they represent. Each school unifies and proudly represents people from that community and all Cariocas (Rio-born Brazilians) also have their favorite school.
Whilst volunteers are hard at work, they can also engage in some Portuguese and English language exchange with fellow workers.
Please note, the dates for Carnival change every year (it is held 40 days before Easter). Volunteers do not get to participate in the Carnaval parade for free, this opportunity is available an extra cost and needs to be arranged in Brazil with our local staff.
Iko Poran was value for money and I received ongoing support from Felipe, the project co-ordinator. I took part in 3 programmes, 2 with children and 1 helping prepare for carnaval; it was great for me as I expressed my interests and skills and the programmes were then matched to my specification.
The cultural change and language difference, can at first be daunting, but if you are willing to take advantage of the language lessons you receive as part of the programme and you embrace the culture, I believe you will get so much more out of the projects.
The children and workers I worked alongside were amazing and I was humbled by the warmth and positivity they showed, despite having very little material possessions.
As you are not working every day, you have the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro and learn about the cultures of others. For me, Brazil is an amazing country and I hope to return, to see more.
The accommodation provided is basic, but the staff were friendly and so helpful that after 5-months, they became like family.
If you go with an open mind, respect the cultural differences and put in what you get out, I can assure you, you will have the time of your life. I didn’t want to leave, but I have amazing memories and friends for life.
Go for it, I say!