Warriors of Peace: Students Reflect on “Amazing Africa” Performance
Nothing brightens a workday quite like a glee-filled batch of student testimonials. Expert research and opinions are crucial pieces of the puzzle when we talk about why arts education matters, to be sure; but the students we reach are experts of their own perceptions.
Touring group Ayodele traveled to St. Sylvester School in Palmer Square on February 29 to close out Black History Month with a performance of their show “Amazing Africa”, which explores the rhythms, dances, and cultures of West Africa with athleticism and artistry. Fifth grade students were asked to reflect on the music and dancing and to share their thoughts on quotes they heard during the show. It was difficult to narrow their responses down, but here are a handful that stood out, ranging in topic from cultural diversity to artistic inspiration:
“It was so awesome! First, the musicians were playing the drums and their hands were a blur! Second, the guy comes out dancing like crazy and doing some cool moves…Third, he explains to be in peace always! It made me feel like we were actually in Africa, in one of the villages celebrating.”
“The music made me feel confident in myself and stronger in myself.”
“What it made me feel was amazing and heart racing. I can even barely explain in words how I feel! It was totally, absolutely jaw dropping. Everything made me feel super alive!”
“ ‘We are people of peace.’ ‘There is merit in all cultures.’ ‘We need to stop focusing on our differences and focus on our similarities; we are all people.’ These quotes made me feel like who cares what you look like and your skin color or what you talk like. [You have to] find the good about that person or yourself. To find the similarities between all of you.”
“When it says to stop focusing on your differences, it is like saying that you are more than just your appearance. Also to start focusing on the things you have in common with others. This makes me feel joy and happiness inside of me, because it shows great courage and love.”
“Sometimes I think of countries and the bad things about them, but the quotes really changed how I saw different countries. I think of the good things such as their celebrations!”
“It makes me feel that we are warriors of peace.”
“The two drummers were playing low and high pitch. It was amazing how the drums came together in a nice beat. The drums were one of my favorite parts.”
“WOW. The music and dancing make me feel on a beat. It makes me feel good inside. It makes ideas come to me! …It could make someone’s day or lighten their spirit.”
“These quotes make me feel good about my culture. That my culture is loved and that my culture is peaceful. That no culture is more important than the other…Please, let us have [this show] next year.”
Thanks to St. Sylvester students for sharing their insights, and to Ayodele for proving that we should never underestimate the impact of a 40-minute performance!