The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

The Power of Self-Belief

16S RGLP

Week five of RGLP pushes students out of their normal learning environment to practice being comfortable with being uncomfortable. (Photo by Phil Son '16)

16S RGLP

RGLP participants are introduced to Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music during the program's fifth session. (Photo by Phil Son '16)

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I did not know what to expect going into this week’s session. I had overheard other RGLP participants saying Capoeira was like martial arts and acrobatics. We all met at the Rockefeller Center wearing our gym clothes at night rather than at the usual evening time not wearing athletic clothing. We made the trek to Alumni Gym as a group and met instructor Fabio “Fua” Nascimento there. The session started with us playing Brazilian instruments and singing songs in Portuguese. We learned about a concept called axé, which is like the social energy of a group as well as energy exuded by an individual. Fua commented on our axé throughout our session. After a couple of songs, we began dancing in very close contact.  We started with girls and boys paired and the boys leading. Then Fua explained how we would now switch roles with girls leading. He had me demonstrate with him this transition. This really put me out of my comfort zone since I am not too confident in my dancing abilities to begin with and then to have to lead the instructor in front of the entire group! However, I did survive leading him and everyone was supportive. 

Fua explained how in Brazil there is no term for awkwardness. I wonder if this has to do with there being different social standards and other cultural differences which make social actions not be perceived as awkward as it would be in the U.S. for example. We actually started learning Capoeira movements towards the end of the session. We were learning one move that included a sort of cartwheel. Most people were nervously giggling while he was demonstrating the move. Fua then declared to us how we could all do the move since it was not that hard. I did not believe him since I can hardly do a cartwheel but somehow I think we all attempted the move pretty well. He emphasized the need for faith in your actions- knowing you can do something before you attempt it. At the very end we all came together in a circle with arms around each others shoulders. We did a breathing exercise which ended in us exhaling like lions. I found this session rather encouraging since it was unlike anything I had ever done before. I don’t do dance, martial arts, sing, or play instruments but somehow I had a great time learning this new moves and basic skills. I came away from this session with the renewed idea of actively searching for new experiences and the faith that I have the ability to do all things.

Submitted by RGLP Participant, Kristen Virkler '18

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