Finally starting to feel again

June 6, 2007 at 3:17 pm (Beth, Trip 2007)

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Samite said we’d be depressed when we came back to the States, but I was honestly starting to think it just wasn’t going to happen. But this morning, waking up to Miriam’s cat meowing loudly at me and walking on my head, I felt sadness swirling around inside me for the first time since leaving Kenya. And surprisingly, I was glad to feel sad. Not feeling my feelings is very strange for me, since I’m usually a self-proclaimed emotional basket case.

I think my body was protecting me from the magnitude of the experience by numbing me. It’s like seeing something really intense or jarring–the mind just says, “okay, well this is too much for you to deal with right now, so I’m just going to shut down, and we’ll deal with this later.” It’s a protective mechanism, and it works really well.

But eventually, the feelings start to come back. I think to myself, “why am I feeling like this now? I already had the experience, and it’s over now. I shouldn’t feel sad now, I should be fine.” But that’s just not how it works.

I think I’m staying at Miriam’s place for the rest of the summer, which is aaaaaaawesome. What better way to process my emotions from the trip than to hang out with my roommate from the trip and go through it with her? I’m very grateful to her for offering me her living room. And I’m very excited to be back in Jamaica Plain, which is where I lived last year. It’s so much more laid back and beautiful than the city, which really helps with the transition back into “real life.”

I’m really just rambling now, but I wanted to say hi on the blog. I hope people keep reading and responding on here, it is such an amazing way to stay in touch. I can’t wait to put the report together with writings from all of us and pictures. And the DVD!! I have no idea when that will be put together, but I can’t wait.

Love you all very very very very very much.

-Beth

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Reconciling Priorities

June 5, 2007 at 4:45 pm (Karen, Trip 2007)

    We are back physically but that’s about it. How do we prioritize what to do next? Yesterday, I taught my first class for the summer semester at Berklee – MTH 431 – “Music Therapy and Medicine” – I can not teach that class the same way as in the past – music is healing, music is health and music is empowering – this, I have always believed but now it has even more meaning. In Kenya, I have seen firsthand, how music can elevate the human spirit and is woven into the very fabric of living – no separation between health and music – it is one. No need to write in medical charts, give workshops on the power of music to heal, or do extensive research projects – music as a healing modality is embraced and accepted and part of the culture.
    As the trip began to wind down, we packed more into each hour – spending time with the children at the orphanages was a priority. Listening to their stories, creating songs with and for them, and then recording the music at Eric Wainaina’s studio all seemed like a natural part of the day and night. Eric introduced us to his business partner, Tim Rimbui, a gifted recording engineer, who graciously and patiently worked with us and the children. Both Eric and Tim gave of their time and resources to support this project and for that, we are indebted.
    While the Music Therapy students spent their final days at Shangilia, I was invited to visit the African Cultural Research and Education Foundation (ACREF) centre in Baba Dogo. Eric is working closely with George Otieno to create performance-based programs for youth as well as parenting programs for those with children with disabilities. Wyndy joined me and we met children with cerebral palsy, visual impairments etc. Wyndy started singing to a little boy who was blind and again I was impressed how comfortable our students are to connect with children, no matter what the disability or where the location – from the Kennedy Day School in Brighton to Baba Dogo in Nairobi – children are children.
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    On the morning before we left, Isaac Kavehere, Vocal Director at Shangilia came to our hotel to give us a vocal master class. He conducts a 250-member Unity Community Choir and he brought some members with him to teach us, “Atiyo Ni Ruodha” (I’m Working for My Lord”). With everything that presented itself, the students rose to the occasion and put their hearts and souls into the dancing and singing. It was like an aerobic workout, but much, much better. I felt quite fortunate to be able to learn and listen to traditional African melodies that still maintained the authentic elements and were left intact.
    Where do we go from here? I went on a ‘fact-finding’ mission for music therapy and Berklee and returned with much more than I imagined – the music, the children, the potential to develop innovative partnerships… Musicians for World Harmony kicked off this initiative and it continues to blossom and grow. Is there really a way to sustain the relationships and experience for others? Indeed, there is….

    Shangilia Children’s Choir is coming to the United States this fall/winter 2007. http://www.micocci.com/shangilia.html Tony Micocci, International tour agent for the children’s choir is pulling the pieces together. Last year, this group went to Greece. This year, they will be spending a majority of the time in New York, but there is talk about Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington, DC – why not Boston? They want to come to Berklee – making that happen, would be a dream. “How” is the next question….

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Back in Body

June 5, 2007 at 6:47 am (Summer, Trip 2007)

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Oh, how these pages are hard to read. Coming home is comfortable, but not exactly comforting. I am struggling with the mundane chores and my calling to serve people drinks while listening to over played pop tunes and yelling out prices and change. I long to be back with the kids, when what I believed and what I was doing were congruent. I know now that my job is to keep the line strong and to continue to work towards more community, family, unity, (words from our song.) I do feel very fortunate to have the opportunities I do, (blessed to be a blessing,) but I am having a difficult time staying nonjudgemental and empathetic of the issues here. I suppose I am just finding the meeting point between two very different worlds both outside and inside myself. I want to go back. Now. Time to save up so that we can go deeper.

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We Are One

June 5, 2007 at 4:27 am (The Group, Trip 2007)

This is a video of one of the MANY times we sang “We Are One” with the kids… It was a song that we wrote shortly after we arrived and visited the orphanages. It became the theme song for the trip, embodying much of our experiences, especially the connections and unity that we all felt.

This video was taken at Shangilia, the second day that we were there.

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Keep Reading!

June 4, 2007 at 8:06 am (The Group, Trip 2007)

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Dear Friends and Family,

Although we have returned from our trip, this is not the end of our experiences and hard work, nor is it the end of this blog! You can still keep up with what we’re doing to continue our efforts. We will be posting more photographs, even videos, from the trip shortly!

We are all continuing to move forward, and this trip has propelled us in a very powerful way. Please stay in touch as things continue unfolding for the Music Therapy in Africa Group. We will need as much help, support and active involvement from everyone to continue with the momentum that we have gained. Thank you for being with us to make our dreams a reality. And keep checking back often for more posts!

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Back to Boston

June 1, 2007 at 5:55 pm (Amanda, Trip 2007)

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Being back is very strange… I think all of us are feeing a disconnect from our surroundings, trying to process what we experienced and handle the how much we are missing the kids.

What an amazing experience… This trip surpassed all of our expectations, and I think our lives have all been changed forever.

To everyone who has been keeping up with us and has been so supportive throughout this whole experience, we will be working on a report to send you, as well as the music that we recorded with the kids.

I miss Benjamin horribly… I can’t stop seeing his sweet little face… and I’ve been reading all the letters that I got from the girls at Shangilia over and over… now that we’ve had the experience, we have to move forward and continue to DO and make our experience into a continuing process…. we can’t stop here, and we won’t…

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