A Music Filled Year!!!

IMG_3042We welcome a music filled year here in the Creative Expression Program! We have been fortunate enough to secure multiple donations in the last 12 months allowing us to plan for a long term and permanent music program.

Last July, TJ Hurst fundraised for our music program and as a result we were able to purchase three new keyboards, a new sound system for performances, 2 new microphones, a brand new guitar rack with the capacity for 20 guitars, and the possibility of planning excursions with our Saturday music club.

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Last year, we were also lucky enough to meet David Wish on a Safe Passage tour. David is the founder and executive director of an amazing US non-profit called Little Kids Rock that works with creating music programs in public schools. The entire creative expression team was invited to participate in an invigorating and exciting two day LKR training with David. To say we enjoyed ourselves would be an understatement. We saw how easy it was to capture the attention of children with music and boost their self-esteem. I certainly felt good about myself after learning to play just a few different chords! Even though I had never played the guitar in my life, I was part of the band by the end of the weekend.   We left the training feeling excited and motivated!

David was then kind enough to introduce us to Edwin and Francisco from Sonidos Para La Vida, an organization based in Guatemala whose mission is to bring opportunities to the children of Guatemala through music. Six months later, through Sonidos Para La Vida collaborating with the Hermes Music Foundation and Little Kids Rock, we received a donation of 20 new guitars and 20 new ukuleles!

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We now have all the tools necessary to have a thriving and permanent music program here at Safe Passage. Noel Arevalo, music teacher, has started an official Saturday club and we hope to have a Safe Passage band in the very near future!

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Art, Photos, and the Zoo!

I recently had the pleasure of joining the Creative Expression team field trip to the zoo.  The excursion was a chance for all of the visual art and photography morning students to practice the techniques they have learned so far this year in a new and different environment.  Art teacher, Luis Curan, along with photography teacher and CE coordinator, Elena Chernock, talked to the kids before they left about how this trip was a special opportunity for them to practice everything they had learned in the last few months.  They also made it very clear that this was a trip the students deserved for working so hard and behaving well.

The bus ride there buzzed with excitement, and I enjoyed seeing the mix of kids from different classes and ages interacting and getting along. When we got to the zoo, we separated into smaller art and photo groups so that every group of 4-5 students was with one adult, receiving the more personalized attention they crave.  What I loved the most was feeling the tug of an excited hand dragging me over to the next animal, joyfully exclaiming something about the animal in front of us.  We exchanged English and Spanish names for each animal, and I watched, impressed, as the kids sketched and took pictures. Seeing them express themselves in such a creative, healthy way felt particularly special for me, because as their English teacher I don’t always get know that artistic side of them.  It was a great morning and all forty-seven students participated with enthusiasm.  The best news of all: we returned with the same number of kids we left with — success!

-Leah Shorb

 

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Una Visita Especial

ImageA inicios de la década pasada, la imponente industria musical de la época puso en vitrina a una pequeña e inquieta cantante mexicana, que a través de una propuesta diferente y honesta logró captar la atención de muchos.  Pasados los años, la bola de nieve rodó y creció de manera impresionante. En el lapso de poco más de una década,  de ser una cantante de coyuntura adolescente se convirtió en una mujer ícono de la música pop mexicana. Su nombre: Natalia Lafourcade.

Paralelo al incipiente éxito de Natalia en su carrera musical, la Asociación Camino Seguro construía las primeras memorias de su noble compromiso con las comunidades circundantes al relleno sanitario, rompiendo ciclos de pobreza y exclusión a través de la educación.  La bola de nieve de Camino Seguro también rodó y sigue creciendo de manera impresionante. Del pequeño grupo de 40 niños con los que Hanley Denning, nuestra recordada fundadora, inició el proyecto en un pequeño e improvisado salón de clases, ahora cuenta con una infraestructura que permite atender más de 550 beneficiarios. Nuestra Asociación es un oasis de oportunidades, crecimiento y desarrollo para los niños, jóvenes y adultos para los cuales trabajamos.

El pasado 12 de febrero, Natalia Lafourcade ofreció un concierto en la ciudad de Guatemala, y aprovechando la ocasión, atendió un día antes la invitación por parte de Camino Seguro para venir a nuestras instalaciones, para conocer de cerca el proyecto y a nuestros niños. Con el carisma y sencillez que le caracteriza, compartió con los afiliados, afiliadas y voluntarios su tiempo y su música. Manifestó sentirse admirada e inspirada por el trabajo y compromiso de Camino Seguro, por lo que no podía dejar pasar la oportunidad de conocernos. Agradecemos la mediación de Queta Calderón, manager de Natalia, que junto al equipo de Camino Seguro coordinaron la visita, mostrando una permanente amabilidad y apertura para llevar todo a cabo.

En un entorno rodeado de violencia, pobreza y estigmatización como en el que viven nuestros niños y niñas, el hecho de interactuar con una mujer sensible que ha logrado el éxito internacional a través de la música, establece un puente que rompe prejuicios, que inspira y fortalece el derecho a soñar y esforzarse por una vida mejor. La realidad del músico fuera de las ficticias luces del escenario y la farándula puede ser en momentos muy difícil. Implica superar barreras, dificultades y rechazos que sin el adecuado coraje, resultan imposibles de vencer. El éxito musical se logra con esfuerzo y trabajo constante. Ese espíritu de lucha contra los obstáculos que Natalia tuvo que superar en su camino al éxito, se replica en el mismo proceso que nuestros niños y sus familias hacen día a día para abolir el conformismo y acuerpar la construcción de una vida más digna.

Luego de una enriquecedora jornada, los lazos entre Natalia y Camino Seguro han quedado amarrados a través de la solidaridad y la amistad. Las puertas  quedaron abiertas de ambos lados,  por lo que este primer acercamiento es el inicio de grandes cosas. Gracias Natalia por compartir con nosotros tu simpatía y tu talento. ¡Hasta pronto!

-Noel Arévalo

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Summer Camp 2013

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Showcasing Inner Strength

If you passed the corridors of safe passage in the last few months, you would notice a room full of paint, music and teenagers.  The morning students have been finishing off their year-long projects and getting ready to show everyone all of their talents.  If you spend just one morning in the creative expression program, you quickly learn that it is not only a place to learn artistic techniques, but also a place where one can discover their personal form of expression.  It is a place that acknowledges the uniqueness that every voice holds.  We are all artists: whether we be musicians, painters, graffiti artists, writers or actors; we all have the ability to express ourselves.  Here, in this program, we offer the space to find your own voice.  Every year, we choose a theme or value that encompasses all of the goals of our program.  This year, the creative expression team decided that internal strength is a value that represents all of us.  Something that is challenging to people of all ages is the ability to accept the things we cannot change and see where we truly do have power.  When we refer to strength or power this year, we are speaking about the difficult moments that happen, because they always happen, and how we decide to react to these moments.

On September 27, 2013 all 83 of the committed creative expression participants showcased their internal strength here at the CRE in front of their peers, families, and teachers.   Every painting, photo, monologue, song, and choreography is a response to their lives.  To participate as artists is a conscious decision to do something positive amidst the chaos that always exists.  The creative expression participants proudly showed off their own strength as well as offered their family and peers a chance to find some within themselves.

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The Strength in Your Community

The morning of July 27th was, as always, one of my favorite days of the year as the creative expression team presented the third annual community values fair.  After months of planning and working with the community, we were able to host a fun filled day of artistic activities. The annual fair is a collaborative event, meant to embody the creative expression program’s core values throughout the community.  This year our theme was Inner Strength, something that we seek to harness in each of our students.

Among the many activities this year, art teacher Samantha Dardas completed our second community mural.  The mural was made using recyclable newspapers gathered by the mothers of the Safe Passage Entrepreneurship program.  The mural’s main image boldly announced our theme to the community. 

We had a wonderful line up of Guatemalan musicians, dancers, and artists participating, as well as our very own Safe Passage music students performing for their first time this year. The municipal Marimba presented over an hour of traditional music, and received glowing reviews!  Here’s a list of a few other activities from the fair. 

  • Face painting and balloon animals hosted by our very own Ludi Club.
  • Volunteer Sam Sands managed the Library Club aka the “brains” station, stocked with checkers, chess, and logic questions.
  • Coordinators Mac Phillips and Kelsey Komich ran the games station, where kids embraced their competitive sides with races, water games, and the gigantic jump rope
  • Enthusiastic Volunteers ran another station with hula hoop, kites, jump ropes, and street chalking
  • An Origami station
  • Our very own Camino clowns jumped on stilts to animate the crowd all day!

We were also fortunate to have help from the new Board of Directors of Mothers from Camino Seguro.  This year they organized and managed a very generous 600 person food donation we received from Roterac.

It was a fantastic day, celebrating the inner strength of the entire community, and another example of how our students overcome the threat of violence and poverty by creating a culture of peace and artistic expression.

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Community Collaboration Art

July is the month of Collaboration here in the creative expression program.  This month we have focused on the theme of collaborative communities.  The key questions being, What are examples of communities?  How do those communities collaborate with each other? Some of the responses we received were:

“Music and bands, to write songs!”

“The forest, its a community of animals and plants!”

¨The street, and all of our neighbors!¨

¨Camino Seguro, with its community of students and teachers!¨

Students were then put into artist teams and began the preliminary drawing of their chosen community on large scale wooden canvases. Once drawn out, students cut from scrap construction paper and recycled magazines, filling their communities with color.  A cityscape created by our 5th graders features rainbow buildings stretching on into a bright sky.  Some 4th graders chose to create a community of wild animals that live together peacefully inside the Guatemala City Zoo.

The experience of working in defined groups, sharing ideas, decision making, and, aiming at a common goal is a valuable lesson for elementary students.  Children who may normally shy away from social circumstances are  forced to become active participants. Those more extroverted learn the importance of listening to the ideas of others. After two weeks of diligent glueing and pasting, each group of students set their works of art in front of the classroom  to be admired and applauded by the rest of their peers.

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