This festival of social justice was sponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life and the Brandeis University Student Union, with the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program and the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department. It was made possible by a generous grant from The Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice.
Explore related questions with the Ethical Inquiry "How Should I Choose My Commitments to Causes?" researched and written by Leah Igdalsky '14.
'DEIS Impact! Summary of Events
Throughout The Week (Monday through Friday)
The Giving Tree
Students painted leaves on the Giving Tree, located on the windows of the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium, after donating to a great cause, and saw how their gift could grow. All donations from the Giving Tree benefited Care International, an organization working for the economic and social empowerment of all women.
Jennifer Kim '14, a member of the Ethics Center Leadership Council, stated that one of the purposes of this event was "to break the norm of traditional fundraising events and traditional social justice events (i.e. guest speaker, seminar, etc.) by using the arts. Holding this event in the future would be a great way of continuing a new tradition."
Sponsored by Positive Foundations
For more information: Kate Alexander
Project Rice Bowls
Rice Bowls magically* turned pocket change into food for orphaned children around the world. And everyone likes magic, right? Especially kids. Ideas like giving, service, and philanthropy are intangible concepts, making them difficult for kids (and some adults…) to grasp and value. Rice Bowls was an easy, tangible way to bring these intangible concepts to life — and have fun to boot. Cardboard rice bowls were put in students' mailboxes to fill with spare change and bring to the Shapiro Campus Center to help make a difference for these children.
*ok, not magic, but just as fun.
Sponsored by Brandeis University Health and Fitness (BUHF)
For more information: Chrissy Fischer
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Playback Workshop: Exploring Social Justice on Campus through Art, Ritual and Social Interaction
This event explored improvisation as a tool for community building and conflict resolution as well as artistic expression. The workshop was led by Will Chalmus '07, theatre arts graduate and founder-director Brandeis Playback Society. Participants experienced the power of the Playback method, telling their stories and watching them enacted by their peers in the workshop. “And that’s the power of Playback,” said one of the participants after telling a particularly tender and personal story, feeling heard and validated as the actors performed her story with sensitivity and skill.
(Left to right): Abigail Steinberg '12, Eileen Kell, Natasha Faria, Will Chalmus '07. Photo by Sheila Donio.
Sponsored by Brandeis Playback Society
For more information: Eileen Kell or Abigail Steinberg
Monday, February 6, 2012
Funding Your Social Justice Summer Internship -- Applying for WOW
Hiatt’s World-of-Work (WOW) program provides students with $3500 stipends to pursue unpaid summer internships. In 2011, 30 WOWs were awarded to students involved with organizations that promote and address issues of social justice. This event presented steps and strategies to preparing a successful WOW application so students could maximize the resources available to support their own social justice mission.
Sponsored by the Hiatt Career Center
For more information: Jackie Blesso
Global Family Literacy: Lesotho, Haiti and Waltham
This event highlighted the magic that happens when families discover children’s literature relating to their cultures. Three speaker groups presented literacy programs, including Professor Jane Hale, Brandeis undergraduates Morgan Conley, Olivia Batker Pritzker, and Abigail Simon, and Ms. Britta McNemar, director of the Waltham Family School.
Everyone from the Brandeis and greater Boston communities was invited to participate in a Family Read-In, during which participants read and distributed books from the Famni Ki Li Ansamn collection.
“In Lesotho, literacy is high but there is no culture of reading. That is, people can read, but they don’t – because reading is associated with rigid schooling and fear about passing high-stakes exams,” said Professor Hale. Introducing children to the pleasure of reading is part of the goal of distributing beautiful picture books in many languages to children in Lesotho, Haiti, and Waltham.
Sponsored by the fall 2011 classes of Comparative Literature 165 and Experiential Learning 94, Famni Ki Li Ansamn Program, and Malapa A Balang Lesotho Program (“Families Reading Together” in Haitian Creole and Sesotho languages).
For more information: Erica Schwartz
Legal Impact: How to Leverage a Law Degree for the Social Good
Featuring Brandeis alumni speakers who work in public interest law (left to right):
Jules Bernstein ’57, of Bernstein & Lipsett, specializing in labor litigation;
Jeremy Gruber '93, president of the Council for Responsible Genetics;
Karen Loewy, ‘96, senior staff attorney with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders; and
Anna Nguyen, ’06, the only Vietnamese-speaking legal aid attorney in Massachusetts, currently the Equal Justice Works Fellow at Greater Boston Legal Services
The Hiatt Career Center and Pre-Law Society presented an exciting opportunity to engage with a panel of alumni attorneys who practice or volunteer in areas of law that focus on social justice. This discussion highlighted pathways for careers in law, ways that legal knowledge and expertise can make a social impact, and a variety of pathways for professional and experiential development.
“There are many ways attorneys can use their legal training for the public good, in non-profits, government work, and private law practice,” said organizer Nancy Waggner of Hiatt. “The ‘good’ can be for individuals, organizations, or through public policy. What drives those who do this is passion.” Jeremy Gruber summed it up: “At Brandeis, all I wanted to be was an activist and an advocate. Today all I am is an activist and an advocate.”
Sponsored by the Hiatt Career Center and the Pre-Law Society
For more information: Nancy Waggner
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Learning to Do Good: Lessons from Research on Service Learning
Featuring (left to right):
-Matthew Boxer and Fern Chertok, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University
-Nahma Nadich, Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston
-Peter Levine, CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) and Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service
Community service and service learning programs are quickly becoming an integral part of the contemporary young adult experience. This brownbag lunch colloquium presented a panel discussion from both researchers and practitioners in the field of service learning for young adults. This panel explored the intersection of pro-social values of justice and compassion, religious and personal identity, and service involvement among young adults. It considered the successes and challenges in attracting the participation of this age cohort as well as the potential impact on civic engagement, and the development of a religious perspective on social justice.
“Service is a hammer but it has many different nails,” said Levine. Audience member Ilana Rosenbaum ’15 interprets that to mean, “one must match people’s skills with where they’re needed most.” Panelists explored the tension between what is best for the volunteers vs. what is best for the community; tension between global work and domestic work; and tension between the resume-builders and those who genuinely want to help people as well as get to the root causes of social injustice. “We often think that right attitudes lead to right activities,” said Levine. “But usually it is the reverse. People get into service for various reasons, but right attitudes often follow.”
Sponsored by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies
For more information: Fern Chertok or Matthew Boxer
The Pursuit of Social Justice in the Abrahamic Faiths
Featuring (left to right) Professors Reuven Kimelman, Bernadette Brooten, and Joseph Lumbard, all of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department, with responses from the Brandeis Interfaith Chaplaincy: Father Walter Cuenin, Imam Talal Eid, Alexander Kern, and Rabbi Elyse Winick (not pictured).
Panelists discussed the questions, What do the Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures say about social justice? and How do those concepts play out in the contemporary world? Lumbard quoted the Qu’ran, which states that making peace is more important than fasting, giving alms, or prayer. Brooten reminded us that the Bible is not a collection of slogans to be taken out of context; in fact, often we can learn more from Biblical writers’ questions than their answers. Kimelman pointed out that ancient prophets Abraham, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Malachi and Amos all advocate for protecting the fatherless, widow, stranger, and/or the poor, adding that one’s closeness to God is dependent upon one’s relationship with these people. Father Cuenin added that the task before us in our day is to take the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments and put it into action in today’s world, using those insights to address issues that were not addressed in the old world. Rabbi Winick called for “sanctifying ambiguity” as we do.
Sponsored by the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department
For more information: Joanne Arnish
Social Justice in American Healthcare: Opportunities to Serve the Underserved
This event considered the dilemmas of underserved populations in the American healthcare system. Moderator Sarah Michael '12 (not pictured) and panelists (left to right) Stacey Ha ’12, Emily Krainer ’12, independent consultant Vanessa McClinchy, Dimple Patel ’12, and Samantha Watson ’01 MBA ’06, focused on health care issues of Native Americans, Alaskan Indians, African Americans, HIV/AIDS patients, the disabled, and young adults with cancer. Audience member Leila Pascual ’15 wrote, “There is a lack of knowledge and awareness, making it easy to look away when these problems are addressed. This is supplemented by the fear of the unknown or making mistakes.” However, each panelist emphasized the need to have an evolving ability to do this important work without outstripping one’s own capacity.
Read the report in The Justice here.
Cosponsored by the Hiatt Career Center
For more information: Sarah Michael
Waiting for Superman: The State of Public Education (film screening and panel discussion)
According to the United States Secretary of Education, every 26 seconds a student gives up on school, resulting in over 1 million children ending their educations prematurely.
This event included a screening of Waiting for Superman, the award-winning 2010 documentary film from director Davis Guggenheim. The film portrays the failures of American public education by following students who hope to be selected in a lottery for acceptance to charter schools. Following the film, a panel of experts representing different facets of education led a discussion about the state of education in this country and how young people can be active in addressing the issues.
Sponsored by Hiatt Career Center. Cosponsored by the Intercultural Center and Waltham Group.
For more information: Jackie Blesso
Self Defense and Women's Rights: Taekwondo Workshop, followed by talk
The Brandeis Taekwondo Club collaborated with Lynda Lytle Holmstrom, PhD '70, to present a workshop both exploring the unfair treatment of women and describing practical Taekwondo techniques of how to fight back.
Dr. Holmstrom pointed out that women’s rights can be addressed from three approaches: women’s rights as human rights; women’s rights as a public health issue (i.e., the impact of domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and trafficking on the health of women); and women’s rights as economic development (showing that improving women’s lives has a multiplier effect on families and children). “Use the approach that is most likely to be effective with your audience,” she advised.
Stephanie Chung '13, president of the Taekwondo club, told stories of her work in Hong Kong teaching self-defense classes to women who were victims of trafficking. Participating in the Taekwondo workshops served to elevate their confidence and helped them feel more empowered as they seek to leave behind their difficult past.
The talks were followed by a self-defense workshop, in which members of the Taekwondo class showed audience members various strategies for handling potential attackers.
Sponsored by the Taekwondo Club
For more information: Wing Shan (Stephanie) Chung
Cheryl Hamilton, Communications Specialist at RefugePoint, came to Brandeis to spread the non-profit organization's inspirational message. RefugePoint works to fill the critical and unmet needs of people affected by war and conflict who have fallen through the net of humanitarian assistance. This commitment is expressed by targeting individuals, families and groups of people overlooked by existing aid programs. RefugePoint strives to alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health, and to raise awareness for these vulnerable people.
Brontte Hwang ’15 notes, “Women and children make up over 70% of the 15 million refugees worldwide. RefugePoint not only works to keep refugees alive, but also works to give them new lives by connecting them with resettlement agencies. RefugePoint also aims to create more welcoming environments for refugees to resettle by educating communities on the importance of diversity and tolerance. It is important to educate all nations and communities about the refugee crisis so that there will be more locations for resettlement and more awareness and aid.”
When asked about possibilities for followup, Brontte made this observation: “I was personally very moved by this presentation and feel that it is crucial that this effort be pursued. Currently, my roommates and I are collecting spare change and money in a jar that we will save until we reach at least $50, which can provide one month of emergency food assistance to a refugee family, or even $2500, which enables one refugee family to permanently resettle to the U.S. I hope to involve other people as well in collecting donations to help RefugePoint’s mission.”
Sponsored by The Justice League
For more information: Liz Soolkin
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Social Justice in the Brandeis Curriculum
Elaine Wong, convener of the event, shared the following ideas from the small group discussions: “Classroom pedagogy can model social justice by helping students learn to reflect and consider their own actions and values, by ensuring that students create respectful classroom communities in which students in small classes know one another’s names and learn how to listen to one another with respect, even when there are disagreements about what is socially just. In addition, faculty could utilize examples, data sets, and case studies with social justice implications instead of more traditional examples.”
Read the story in The Justice here.
Sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences; American Studies; Computer Science; Department of Sociology; English; Environmental Studies; Legal Studies; Peace, Conflict and Coexistence Studies.
For more information: Dean Elaine Wong
This event featured a screening of RENEWAL, a film about the power of faith groups to mobilize individuals and communities to take on daunting environmental challenges like climate change and food security. There was an introduction by Ariana Berlin '14 and interactive discussion with the filmmaker Martin Ostrow '69 and the Brandeis chaplains. Most faith traditions have respect for God’s creation as a central tenet of their religion. Tapping into that respect for nature can be a powerful force for addressing environmental issues, as faith groups come together to work on these social problems that all humanity holds in common.
Sponsored by Environmental Studies.
For more information: Professor Laura Goldin
Local is Global: Bridging Domestic Action and Global Impact
Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service
For 25 years, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has worked to empower marginalized people around the world. But with problems so vast, it can be hard to imagine how individuals can help. AJWS President Ruth Messinger led a dynamic discussion about how AJWS approaches development abroad and at home. From far-flung grassroots NGOs working in the field, to Jewish advocates for food justice lobbying on Capitol Hill, she described the transformative impact of education, volunteering and advocacy, and proposed new ways people can support movements for change around the world.
Special guest Professor Laurence Simon, co-founder of AJWS and Executive Director, Sustainable International Development Programs at Brandeis University’s Heller School, reflected on his vision at the creation of AJWS and on the remarkable 25-year history of the organization he helped launch.
View the keynote and discussion above.
Leah Silver '12 observed, "Ruth reminds us that although what we see, hear, and experience about the world today can be devastating and overwhelming, we must push ourselves not to 'retreat to the convenience of being overwhelmed.' Ruth has played a huge role in my life as a woman, a Jew, and a human being. She is one reason I care so much about service-learning and why I got involved with tutoring Brandeis workers in the English Language Learning initiative, and later coordinating the ELL initiative, when I got to Brandeis."
The Justice gave Ruth Messinger’s keynote address front-page coverage. Read the article here.
The Hoot article is here.
Sponsored by the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life and the Student Union, along with the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department, and The Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice
For more information: Ethics Center
BADASS Presents: What Makes for a Just Welfare State?
For the past two years, Americans have fought over the role of government. They have argued over whether government services such as healthcare and welfare enhance or curtail freedom, improve or diminish prosperity, and overall lead to a better or worse society. These questions get to the heart of different views of a just society and a vibrant community. The Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society (BADASS), the third ranked debate team in the country, debated whether state services should be provided to everyone or only the needy. Audience members had a chance to weigh in with short speeches before the closing arguments.
Audience member and Ethics Center Leadership Council member Sasha Beder ’14 writes, “The ‘public’ at the debate seemed extremely engaged, as it is no surprise that Brandeis students are opinionated. With the help of our skilled debate team, the Brandeis community could (and should) come together to engage in regular debates over important issues, and seek ‘truth, even unto its innermost parts.’”
Sponsored by the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society (BADASS), featuring debaters Michael Perloff '12, Russell Leibowitz '14, Keith Barry '13, and Shira Almeleh '14.
For more information: Michael Perloff
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Idealism and the Undergrad: Student Involvement in and its Effectiveness on Global Health Initiatives
(left to right) Moderator Sarah Van Buren '13 joined panelists Jon Schaffer of Partners in Health, Paul Sukijthamapan ’13, John Macom, Cynthia Tschampl, and Khin Myat to discuss difficult ethical questions about student involvement in global health. Despite the ethical challenges of “duffel bag medicine” and the need for cultural sensitivity, panelists agreed that “non-clinically trained people can do a huge amount of good.” When asked how students decide where and how to get involved, Tschampl quoted her minister when she was an undergraduate student in Iowa: “What we’re talking about is a discernment process. Focus your efforts on where the world’s greatest need and your greatest passion intersect.”
Sponsored by Project Plus One (PP1)
For more information: Sarah Van Buren
Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan
At the start of the 21st century, over 200,000 college-aged young people, disproportionately from underprivileged and minority backgrounds, were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries were suffered by 20% of these service men and women who were fortunate enough to return from combat. Marguerite G. Bouvard (pictured far left) spoke about her book, The Invisible Wounds of War: Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan, in which she contends that these veterans need to be honored, understood and cared for by their contemporaries when they return home.
Bouvard made a clear distinction between supporting war versus supporting soldiers and honoring their service. Noting the high rate of suicide among veterans, Bouvard observed, “war erodes a sense of the sanctity of human life, including one’s own.”
Student organizer Amber Kornreich ’12 mentioned many ways that Brandeis students can get involved: “The Brandeis Hunger and Homelessness group regularly visits the Waltham Day Center (a church turned homeless day shelter). Many veterans end up homeless and this is a wonderful way to listen to their stories and help right here in Waltham. There are many other ways we can help too – through fundraisers, letter writing (choose a soldier currently in Iraq or Afghanistan and address at anysoldier.com/WhereToSend/), or with canned food and toiletries drives.”
Sponsored by ‘DEIS Impacters and the Women’s Studies Research Center
For more information: Amber Kornreich
Taking Responsibility: Europe's Role in Addressing Climate Change
Live from Essen, Germany (in English): A video conference and panel discussion was held about the topic of climate change as an issue of social justice. It featured Dr. Bernd Sommer, research analyst to the German Advisory Council on Global Change, and Maximilian Muengersdorf, of the graduate colloquium "Challenges to Democracy through Climate Change" at the Institute for Culture (KWI) in Essen.
Sommer and Muengersdorf reported on EU member states’ progress in reaching the goal of increasing renewable energy by 20% before 2020 (compared to 1990 rates). Interestingly, France and Germany differ sharply in their use of nuclear power to reduce reliance upon fossil fuels. France is dependent upon nuclear power for 70-80% of its power needs, while Germany only uses 20% nuclear, and is seeking to decrease that number even further in the wake of the Japanese nuclear disaster.
Sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies
For more information: Professor Sabine von Mering
Stress: The Hidden Health Cost of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
Scratch the surface of hypertension, depression, cancer, and birth outcomes, and you find stress as a major factor. Scratch the surface of stress and you sometimes find racial and ethnic discrimination. For many marginalized populations, discrimination is a major source of health issues. This idea underscores even more firmly the importance of addressing discrimination as a social justice issue: individual lives are at stake. The speaker, Professor Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson, received her BA, MA, and PhD from Brandeis, and currently teaches at the Heller School.
Nsiah-Jefferson unpacked the themes illustrated in A Class Divided, a film about Jane Elliott’s third-grade classroom in Iowa in 1968. Elliott conducted an experiment to show children what it would be like to experience discrimination based on eye color instead of skin color. "I watched what had been marvelous, cooperative, wonderful, thoughtful children turn into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders in a space of fifteen minutes," said Elliott. Nsiah-Jefferson then illustrated the tremendous health care impact of a lifetime of racial and ethnic discrimination.
Cosponsored by the Heller School
For more information: Professor Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson
!Women Art Revolution
This event presented a film screening of !Women Art Revolution, a documentary by director Lynn Hershman Leeson that explores the Feminist Art Movement over the past several decades through interviews with visionary artists, historians, curators, and critics. Afterwards there was a lively discussion of what “feminist art” means today and how it can be used to create social change.
“A single voice became a chorus became a movement became a revolution,” stated artist Judy Chicago in the film. The opening lines of the film challenged viewers to name three male artists, then three female artists. Susan Le ’15 reflected, “Naming three male artists was easy, but naming even one female artist proved to be a challenge. It should be 50/50. It's fascinating the change in women's stride for equality compared to now.”
Sponsored by the Women’s Studies Research Center
For more information: Michele L'Heureux
How We Work to Make the World Better and You Can Too
Featuring (left to right):
-Lisa Exler '01, MA '02, American Jewish World Service
-Nahma Nadich '76, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
-Jordan Fruchtman MA '08, MBA '08, Moishe House
-Joy Sisisky '98, Jewish Women's Foundation of New York
-Professor Jonathan Sarna '75, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Hornstein Program, Brandeis
Four Brandeis alumni involved in cutting-edge Jewish-sponsored social justice organizations joined Professor Jonathan Sarna for a discussion of what they do, why they do it, how Brandeis helped to shape them, and why they want you to join them.
“I thought my knowledge base or skill would get me a job,” said Exler. “In fact, it’s my ability to communicate, work well with others, and be flexible that has led to my success.” One of the students attending the event, Alex Glomset ’14, commented that the panelists stressed “the importance of world experience in gaining another perspective on life. I believe that this was an extremely interesting event to attend because it not only reflected on the alumni’s career paths, but gave insight to the audience on how to succeed and make the most of your four years at Brandeis.”
Sponsored by the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department and the Hiatt Career Center
For more information: Joanne Arnish
Friday, February 10, 2012
Social Justice Employer Office Hours
Students met one-on-one with professionals from organizations with a social justice mission. Organizations included City Year, Peace Corps, Corporate Accountability International, City on a Hill, and Equal Exchange.
Sponsored by The Hiatt Career Center
For more information: Caroline O'Shea
Peace Vigil – Social Justice
This midday vigil highlighted – in an inclusively spiritual environment of quiet centering, thoughtful reflection, and unifying song – the interconnectedness between issues of peace and social justice. Since January 2007, the Brandeis Interfaith Chaplaincy has sponsored the weekly, all-seasons, all-weather Brandeis University Peace Vigil, open for all to be "Mindful in a Time of War" and to remember the promise of peace that lies at the heart of all religious and democratic traditions. The vigil has also been a space for the Brandeis community to gather in times of extraordinary campus or international crises.
Naveh Halperin ’12 commented at the vigil, “We tend to go to all or nothing thinking. But the small thing you do can be perfectly fulfilling. And if everyone did the small thing, the big thing would be changed.”
Sponsored by the Brandeis Interfaith Chaplaincy
For more information: Alexander Kern
Social Justice in Islam
In his sermon at Jum’ah (Muslim Friday prayer service), Brandeis University Chaplain Imam Talal Eid spoke about social justice in Islam. The Imam reminded the audience of the advice in the Qur’an to “act with justice, even if it’s against one’s own interest or family interest.” Even in dealings with one’s enemy, “do not let the hatred others have for you make you swerve from your path of justice,” he said.
Sponsored by the Brandeis Interfaith Chaplaincy
For more information: Imam Talal Eid
Our World: Making it Better One "Step" at a Time
ExCeL (experiential learning) Fellows led the Brandeis community in an interactive activity facilitated by Professor Gordie Fellman (SOC) in which students learned how they can change the world through empathy and diversity. Participants reflected on their engagement and learning inside and outside the classroom. Easy questions included, “Have you taken a class where you left the class feeling like you learned something that you could teach others?” One of the tougher questions was, “When you leave the ‘Brandeis bubble’ do you ever feel guilty about the privileges a Brandeis education gives you?”
Sponsored by Experiential Learning
For more information: Amanda Dryer
Heartbeat of Humanity
The steady beat of a drum. The breath of a dancer. Voices humming in unison. Ten Brandeis undergraduate performers took the audience on a journey of souls searching for peace amidst conflict and despair. The performance allowed for the experience of a universal connection, created in the visceral elements of rhythm, movement, and voice.
For more information: Alia Goldfarb
Followup Event – Monday, February 13, 2012
Nimbaya: Moving Peace through Drums and Dance
Nimbaya! Women drummers and dancers from Guinea came to campus to teach, perform and musically pave the path to peace. Students listened to their stories, watched their performance, learned dance and drumming...then saw the film Wardance, a story of how dance and drumming transforms the lives of children in Uganda as they prepare for a national competition. Nimbaya broke gender boundaries in years past, and has been at the forefront of acceptance of women drummers in the formerly male-only drumming world in Guinea. Now they have begun to tackle another social issue - female genital mutilation (FGM). The group's mission for this tour is to eradicate the tradition of FGM and empower women around the world.
Professor Judy Eissenberg reported, “The group's talent and virtuosity speak to the women's capacity to rise above the challenges each and every one of them face. These women, many of whom cannot read and have 0-4th grade education, were here on an academic campus teaching our students. They play on the world stages of concert halls and festivals around the world, but it is particularly meaningful for them to sense our respect for and eagerness to engage with the kinds of knowledge they hold and pass down from generation to generation.
“This mini-residency touched a lot of people,” Eissenberg adds, “from students to the community (on and off campus) who came to the performance, the drumming and dance workshop (bringing their own djembes), or the powerful and moving film Wardance. The post-film discussion was graced by the presence of Jackie Okanga from Uganda, a Heller COEX grad student who spoke to past and present conditions in her home country.” One of the Ugandan youth interviewed in the film stated, “We have lost relatives, and the war has left us with a lot of scars, but that is not where our story ends.”
Sponsored by Music Unites Us and the Music Department
For more information: Professor Judith Eissenberg, MUUS