Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year

The final week of fall quarter arrived quickly for many IslandWood grad students. It seems like we spent so many weeks preparing for the journey ahead, a challenge accompanied by the uncertainty of an unknown terrain, a group of new faces, and for many of us, a highly-anticipated move across the country. Now, the first term of the year is over, and the depths of these new experiences are really beginning to unfold.

The final teaching week was, without a doubt, one to remember. Cohorts A and B united for a week of team-teaching, meaning that both cohorts were teaching in the field together, and each field group was led by two grad instructors. For some, team-teaching is an exercise in working closely with another person to better learn from someone else's teaching style and methods. For others, it's an opportunity to share with a friend the many remarkable and often unpredictable moments that arise from the experience of teaching in the woods.

This week was marked by the presence of Arist-in-Residence (AIR), Jah Breeze. An IslandWood AIR for seven years, Jah Breeze is an international musician and drummer from Guyana. Each year, Jah Breeze has brought to IslandWood his vast knowledge and background in African drumming. With experience teaching percussion lessons at various Seattle organizations, as well as those throughout the country and around the world, Jah Breeze brought to this week's programming a level of excitement among the students, staff and grad instructors alike. Throughout the week, six lucky field groups participated in 90-minute workshops in which Jah Breeze taught the students about the cultural, historical and artistic aspects of African drumming. Students practiced and performed rhythms using the Djembe, a traditional African drum constructed from hardwood trees and covered by a skin or membrane.

During the workshops, students learned traditional rhythms of Africa, South America and the Caribbean. It was an opportunity for students to practice a unique cultural artform while facilitating the exploration of their own interests and abilities.

This week, the normal indoor evening program was replaced by a special performance by Jah Breeze and students from all 13 field groups. The students proudly accompanied Jah Breeze as he filled the Great Hall with the rumbles and patters produced by a group of budding musicians. The look of pride worn on each young face was that of a child genuinely touched by a meaningful and memorable experience, and as a grad instructor, it was a truly rewarding sight with which to end the quarter.

As I draft this entry, I am sitting on a plane traveling nearly one side of the country to the other. After being home for the holidays for the last two weeks, most of us are making the long trek back to Bainbridge Island for the start of winter quarter. For many, the holidays presented a welcomed and much-needed reunion with family and friends. But as I leave all that behind, I can't help but wonder what will be waiting for me when I return to IslandWood. I am often amazed, when I really pause and think, about the vast body of knowledge I've gained since first arriving here at IslandWood some five months ago. Undoubtedly, there is still much ahead to learn, especially from the children we are here to teach. As I continue my flight, now somewhere over the vast spread of the sprawling plains, I contemplate the start of a new year and the many opportunities from which to glean knowledge and growth; and as I wrap up this entry, I look forward to stretching my legs and seeing my roommate and fellow grad instructor, Hanae, waiting with a smile on the ground below.

Cheers to a brand new 2010, and I'll be seeing you all in the coming year!

1 comment:

Jen Dah YĆ© said...

Great work here . give thnaks for thsoe who participate to this event , Drums were are ans still a nice tool to teach youths about history .
Blessing to all ..