Manchester International Festival, UK

Tania Bruguera’s powerful, provocative and inspiring new work draws us nearer to those who’ve made Manchester their home, inviting us to discover and embrace the diversity in our midst.

During MIF19, the school offered over 80 classes on a wide-ranging curriculum that includes food, customs, politics and many other forms of knowledge – classes given by local people originally from countries around the world, from Zimbabwe to Tibet. These were not only instructional lessons, but something more personal and vivid. Each teacher passed on their own experiences, sharing skills, knowledge and culture in a different kind of communal integration and learning experience in the heart of Manchester.

Open and free to all, the School of Integration fostered cohesion and helped build bridges of cultural understanding – encouraging us to eliminate the idea of strangeness and cherish a plurality of voices, and integrating us with the world.

My role in the School of Integration was to look after the engagement and wellbeing of teachers; effectively moving through the full production process at their side. I ensured that people who put themselves forward to be teacher understood the ethics of the work and what it aimed to achieve. I was instrumental in the scheduling and rehersal to prepare teachers; carefully crafting and creating lesson content alongside them. I also looked out for the menta and emotional wellbeing of those involved, helping to build confidence so that teachers felt comfortable and equipped to share something of themselves with a live audience.