Diapora of Hope 09

Fifteen women and two men from the United States and Canada were an excited and professional group of artists traveling to Philadelphia, Egypt, Kenya, Guatemala and Nicaragua to participate in BuildaBridge's annual Diaspora of Hope. The artists were joined by scores of local artists in each country as they planned, trained and implemented an arts camp on the themes of hope, peace, and unity with children from very difficult circumstances. The BuildaBridge Classroom model was the structure for each camp. This was the first year Diaspora of Hope conducted a project in Philadelphia with a local partner--a shelter abused women and their children. The mission of Diaspora of Hope is to provide children with a brighter future and build the capacity and sustainable development of local organizations serving these children who live in poverty. The following blogs from around the world describe the events of the week and stories of transformation.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Guatemala: Stories of Transformation

By Alaina Cronkright, Buildabridge Leader, Disapora of Hope Guatemala, 2009 

Drama Teacher Transformed
Luisa was excited from the first day I met her at the orientation for all the teachers and artists.  At the orientation, the Saturday before we left for Camp El Faro, she was trying to piece together objectives from the unity curriculum into her lesson plans.  How do I connect theatre technique objectives to objectives of unity?  She asked good questions as she attempted to wrap her mind around giving the children the experience of unity through their drama class in the upcoming week.  She was apprehensive, and wanted to do things correctly as this was the first time she had done something of this nature.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Philadelphia Stories of Transformation

Imagine staying in a facility that is a safe haven for your mother and siblings from potential harms inside your own home.  Not knowing when you may get back to that home, consistency being a thing of the past, you trudge forward somewhat uncertain of your future.  This is what was facing the children of Diaspora of Hope Philadelphia.  With a handful of children and a mixture of apprehension and anticipation from the students, our team delivered the means for creation in visual and dance forms.  Our six children ranged in age from 6 to 15 years old. I was most concerned about how to establish organic movement from the children for dance that we could use in our final celebration performance.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Movement of Me…This is How I’m Shaping Up

After a bit of a rocky start to the week, our Dance/Creative Movement class was underway. The students learned classical dance technique. For the culminating event they were able to demonstrate plie and releve with por de bra (the movement of the arms) in first position as well as in a traveling movement. In addition to classical technique, the students discovered ways to create shapes with their bodies, both individually and collectively.

Like dance, our lives take on many shapes and we have the ability to use those shapes to move us to our ultimate goal and or desire...the dance of our lives. I seized the opportunity to share with the students my personal story of how my desire to dance outweighed the discouragement I received as a young child and invited them to dream as well. Each student shared with the class their dreams and aspirations. With the Styrofoam shapes front and center on the floor, I asked them to document their dreams. They were to include any of the shapes in a drawing depicting their dream. The students were given a string to fold their pictures up and tie around their necks or wrists – close to the beat of their hearts – as a reminder of their dreams.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kenya: With our Hands an Feet on the Wall

Final DOH article from Moses Okonji, Photography teacher and director of the Inspiration Centre
Photos by Gideon Ochieng

The week was great as I try to reflect on what each class did and their teachers. Saturday was the climax of everything that all the teachers have been doing. We were a little bit scared of the weather when it started raining. Bearing in mind that all our presentations were done outdoors, we took our chances and let things be. Fortunately all went well. The entire presentation was amazing; starting with the poetry class led by Godfrey, Mwaura and Kylee presented a peace poem.  

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Egypt: The Impact of the BuildaBridge Classroom Model

Josh Cooper

I came, I saw, and I began to understand. The Diaspora of Hope – Egypt 2009 was a transformational experience, not just for the young people we went to serve, but for me as well. The experience allowed many ideas about how kids should be taught to be resurrected. Quite frankly, some ideas were just changed. It seems I’d already began to forget what I’d learned in the Master’s Urban Studies Arts in Transformation program (this just goes to show that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Thus, I must commit to using it more often).

I’d forgotten about the impact of the BuildaBridge (BB) Classroom and just how children so quickly respond to it. The format incorporates the very elements that young people, especially those disadvantaged, need. Ritual, rhythm, and response, and structure are good for all of us.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Guatemala Final Celebration

Alaina Cronkright, Buildabridge Team Leader

Today we had the final celebration, exhibiting the children's art work, in Campo de Marte, nearby the Limonada community. One of the metaphors to real life that had come up in our art classes this week came to life today. Even if you don’t have the resources you think you need, you can preserve and work together to reach your goals. We ran into some logistical problems with our venue once we arrived, the main problem being a lack of electricity. But, despite the lack of music for the dance class and the noisy background of the park (soccer games, live music, and traffic to name a few) the children performed. Parents gathered around the stage and watched the celebration of the art-making unfold. They joined in as the Visual Arts & Music class sang their call and response, “music has the power to unite La Limonada.” Children from both communities were present, as well as parents.

At the end of the exhibition the students received their Buildabridge Certificates for the classes they participated in, and the teachers were lined up to congratulate them. Smiles were shared, and tears were shed as each one of the 94 children were hugged by the six artists teaching their classes. Some of the children wrote notes to teachers to tell them how much they had affected them. Despite the challenges, today really was a celebration of the life-changing week we all spent together.

Reflections on a week of Unity in Guatemala

For the past week we have been working with the children of La Limonada, from two different sides of this barrio in the heart of Guatemala City: El Limon and Mandarina. On Monday we packed 107 children and 30 adults into two school buses. I shared a seat with three children, others sat on buckets, and quickly we became, quite literally, close. The two school buses of children were separated by communities: Limon on one side, Mandarina on the other.

As soon as we arrived at Camp El Faro (seven hours later) the children were put into groups and cabins that mixed up the two communities. Throughout the week the students were in cabins, played games, ate meals, and made art together in their classes. We had six classes total: Voice and Movement, Graffiti, Visual Arts and Music, Drama, Textiles, and Dance.