Sunday, July 15, 2007

culture jams!

If you visit Rafael's photo page, (see previous post) you'll see some fun pics of students performing a wide variety of acts. Welcome to Culture Jam! I wish this had existed when I traveled as a student. It is a combination of open mike/ talent show with a cultural focus... a chance for students to share a little about themselves, their traditions, cultures, talents & hobbies with each other.

What I loved about the Culture Jams that happened last Wed and Thurs was how the students jump in so confidently, and also were so willing to help each other out-- Sukoen from Cambodia recruited 15 people to learn & perform a traditional Cambodian dance; Veronica taught Jeremiah some salsa moves so she could have a dance partner; the Mexicans, with a few Mexican-Americans, put together an impromptu mariachi band;and the Japanese performed a medley of songs from Japan, including a rockin' "air guitar" demonstration, as a Japanese man just won the International Air Guitar competition!

To see the bravery of some of the more reserved or quiet or shy students to get up and share something was very moving. Plus the energy in the room, and the support of the students for each other was powerful. Some of my favorite moments:
-the standing ovation that our one blind student, Jessica from Tucson, AZ-USA, received for her smokin' violin and vocal solo-- a song that she usually plays in a larger mariachi band. I have never seen anyone's fingers fly on the fiddle like Jessica's.
-A tall Swede named Johan had planned originally to sing a traditional Swedish song, but decided to instead share a song he wrote. In his introduction, he asked that we would pretend we already knew the song, so we would recognize it when he started playing and would cheer like we were excited to hear it!

There was a boy band performance from a very recently formed international group, "Out of Sync", and a lesson in how to speak Minnesotan from the five midwesterners that included a demonstration on appropriate situations in which to use the word "Uff-da." There was a Belgian breakdancer and a step team demo and a South Korean who played her national song on a bamboo flute, and much much more.

One really cool result of the Culture Jams, and the reason why I wish they had existed when I was a student, is that some of these acts will be added into the up with people show for the tours this fall. So instead of Up with People production staff choosing and teaching a Mexican song and an Indian dance, the students bring to the stage something more of themselves.


Mie said...

MR ENEBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(sorry Ellen ... we haven't met yet, but since you are coming to Belgium, am assuming that will come soon enough ... so please excuse for addressing this comment to your lovely husband).

Long time no hear! But UNBELIEVABLE to see you are on the road again ... and ... what's more to it ... you're coming to Belgium. Can't wait to see you.

Reading through the blog, seems that uwp is still as overwhelming as it was.

I left the company last summer, when MCI took over. Which was a disspointment to be honest. But I have now embarked on an entire new adventure ... am going back to school to become a therapist.

Anyway, this is beginning to be WAY TOO LONG for a comment.
Am just really excited to see your face. And I truely hope there will be some time for us to catch up when you arrive in our fine country ;)

MUCH LOVE and HUGE HUGZ (about 8 years worth ;))


Wayne Schmieg said...

Hi beauties,

Just got caught up on your blogs after being out east. Sounds like you are being challenged and are having fun.

Love you,