Collaboration between Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center and African Arts Non-Profit Cheza Nami Yields First Major Educational Grant
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Contact: Nancy Mueller
Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center
Collaboration between Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center and African Arts Non-Profit Cheza Nami Yields First Major Educational Grant
LIVERMORE, CA – (July 13, 2014) – The Cheza Nami Foundation, working in conjunction with the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, has received a significant grant from the City of Pleasanton to provide educational assemblies on African culture to Pleasanton elementary schools. Intended to foster greater awareness of Africa’s unique and extensive attributes among people of all backgrounds and to encourage youth participation in the arts, Cheza Nami assemblies are an interactive mix of creative movement and musical expression. Students are invited to personally explore African instruments, dances and games in a 45-minute presentation designed specifically for their age group.
The grant from the City of Pleasanton represents the first project in Cheza Nami’s Cultural Arts and Learning (CAL) program, which was developed in collaboration with LVPAC and the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District in 2013. A total of 12 assemblies will be offered to six elementary schools in the City of Pleasanton and is anticipated to reach a total of 2,400 unduplicated students during the 2014-2015 school year.
Cheza Nami (“come play with me” in Swahili) was founded three years ago to preserve and encourage young people’s appreciation of the rich culture of Africa, through active exploration of African dance, drumming and play. Based in Pleasanton, Cheza Nami has provided assemblies to individual schools in cities throughout the Bay Area including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Redwood City and Alameda. The curriculum-based assemblies engage students in an enriching educational experience not typically available in the classroom and are designed to meet the State of California’s visual arts, social studies and physical education standards.
Founder and president Catherine Ndungu-Case of Cheza Nami says that collaboration with LVPAC has been instrumental in helping to create this opportunity. “This grant from the City of Pleasanton is a major milestone for Cheza Nami,” says Ndungu-Case. “This is the first time we have worked with an entire district rather than a single school site. It will help us meet our long-term goal to reach a large pool of students with a consistent and streamlined program.”
Through the Bankhead Theater and the Bothwell Arts Center, LVPAC has established a framework for providing diverse access to the arts and educational outreach to students of all ages in the Tri-Valley area. The CAL program is a natural extension of those efforts, allowing Chezi Nami to leverage LVPAC’s expertise in providing compacted educational programming to multiple schools efficiently. LVPAC will provide the administrative support and Cheza Nami will provide the programming.
Pleasanton elementary schools can apply to Cheza Nami to be included in the program beginning in August 2014. The grant from the City of Pleasanton provides funding for six schools to receive two assemblies each. Should additional schools in the Pleasanton Unified School District be interested, funding would need to be obtained to cover expenses. Through the CAL program,
Cheza Nami also continues to solicit funds with the goal of expanding the assemblies to the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District and other schools in the area. To apply for the Cheza Nami CAL program or for more information, schools can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (925) 398-3827.
Cheza Nami is a nonprofit charitable organization whose aim is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of African Culture by welcoming members of the community to participate in fun‐filled activities while learning what makes African culture so unique. Cheza Nami believes in a play‐based, experiential approach to education, teaches African culture through dance, play and movement, and works with local members of the community who have a deep passion and commitment for learning or sharing African culture. Cheza Nami envisions a world in which all associate with and celebrate African Culture. For more information visit www.chezanami.org
The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center provides wide-ranging programs that provide access to the arts for the Tri-Valley community and beyond. The Bankhead Theater and the Bothwell Arts Center are home to nine resident performing arts companies and over 40 studio artists and cultural arts instructors. Between them, they offer more than 500 public activities each year, from classes and workshops, to concerts and performances, as well as extensive educational outreach in the arts. A list of upcoming performances at the Bankhead Theater, as well as activities at the Bothwell Arts Center, is available online at www.mylvpac.com
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Source: Independent News paper. You can also read the original article here
Posted: Friday, June 6, 2014 12:00 am
By Carol Graham
As more than 150 students, family members, teachers and staff gathered at Joe Michell School, nine-year-old Connie Aydelott was feeling nervous.
“Connie has been involved with the Livermore American Indian Center for three years,” explained mom Aileen Aydelott. “She began practicing powwow dancing, specifically fancy dance, and has participated in the center’s events. But this time, Connie was very nervous at first because she would be dancing in front of her school and classmates. I think she didn’t want to be ridiculed or embarrassed. And afterward? She was very proud of herself, and received a lot of positive feedback. She gained self-esteem and pride in her culture, Pyramid Lake Paiute.”
On May 16, Livermore’s Joe Michell School hosted its first Multicultural Evening, an event designed to support its K-8 students in understanding and appreciating both their own and classmates’ cultures.
“If we are going to create a positive school climate where all students feel safe to learn, we must recognize that there are many differences between people,” said Principal Dr. Laura Lembo. “Understanding those differences will foster a culture of respect.”
The Multicultural Evening featured the food, music, dance, clothing and art of more than a dozen countries, including Germany, India, Scotland, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Albania, Italy, Colombia, Spain and the U.S.
“When students can see themselves reflected in their school they will feel connected and be more engaged. Learning will be more meaningful to them,” said Lembo. “As an International Baccalaureate Candidate School, one of our goals is to foster intercultural understanding and develop students who are internationally minded.”
Michell is currently completing the second year of its three-year accreditation process to become an International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme school. The program’s mission is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and compassionate life-long learners.
“The Multicultural Evening was inspired by parents who were looking to create an event that would bring our school community together,” said Michell’s IB Coordinator Amie Hauselt. “This desire says to us that we are building a sense of international-mindedness at the school, not only with the students and staff, but with our larger school community.”
The event featured performances and demonstrations by the Cheza Nami organization, Ushanjali School of Dance, the American Indian Education Center and Turtle Nation Singers, Ballet Folklorico, the Junction Avenue K-8 School Mariachi Club band, and Joe Michell square dancers and school choir. Additionally Michell’s 6-8 grade students, who had been studying international games in PE, set up an outdoor bocce court and invited participants to learn the game.
“This kind of event allows us to do our best work: sharing knowledge through work that is student created, creating excitement about learning, bringing the community together to experience something positive, and allowing for opportunities for students to act on their learning through service to the school and the community,” said Hauselt. “We are so thrilled by the level of attendance. It far exceeded our expectations.”
Third-grade teacher Lynda Brekke attended, looking forward to seeing one of her students perform.
“It was so, so sweet to see Connie performing a Native American dance in full regalia. Her pride lit up the room!” Brekke said. “Seeing Connie dance made me think how fortunate she is to learn about her ancestry, culture and beliefs. What if every child had that opportunity? Perhaps attending an IB school will make that an opportunity for every student.”
Added Lembo, “I hope that everyone who participated recognized the richness of our school community and how education can bring cultures together to create a more peaceful world.”
Hot off the press! Check out this amazing article in the May 2014 issue of the Curated magazine by flipping over to page 28. Please share and read to learn more about who we are and what we do.
Great article in the independent about our recent youth program at Junction Avenue with Jayson Fann. Thank you Livermore rotary
Poetry, Fashions, Story-telling, Music and DrumCircle All Part of Festivities - The Independent:Community
You can also read the Original article from the Independent news page here
by Rikha Sharma Rani
Photography by: Pat Mazzera
Catherine Ndungu-Case, Cultural Ambassador
Who: Catherine Ndungu-Case, president and CEO of the Cheza Nami Foundation (www.chezanami.org).
What: A nonprofit organization that seeks to promote understanding and appreciation of African culture through music, dance, art, and play.
When: After the birth of her twins, Ndungu-Case began searching for resources to help teach her kids Swahili, the language of her native Kenya. What she had hoped to find was something similar to baby sign language classes, which use flash cards and interactive play to teach babies how to sign. She came up empty-handed. Undeterred,
she started designing activities to do with her kids at home and, in 2011, founded Cheza Nami, which means “come play with me” in Swahili.
Where: Cheza Nami operates all over the Bay Area. A free community program is held at the Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore, and there is a six-week session every quarter at Mothership HackerMoms in Berkeley. Cheza Nami also conducts private programs in elementary schools, summer camps, and senior centers, and presents programs for corporations and at teacher training centers.
Why: “There are some really awesome qualities about African culture that I want to share,” says Ndungu-Case. Among those qualities is a strong sense of community. “My dream is for Cheza Nami to grow into a collective of artists—people who want to be a part of African culture and who want to share it with others.”
How: Cheza Nami’s educational programs are meant to be interactive. Participants may take part in a drum circle, sing songs in Swahili, and learn traditional dances. There is also a Mommy and Me program, where
parents and children sing, dance, play games, and listen to African-themed stories.
Read the original article here
Read the Original article here. Source: The Express- The award-winning newspaper of Las Positas College in Livermore, California
Charlie Anne Urcia
As the sun set on May 9, the amphitheater was brought to life with the powerful rhythmic beating of African drums and steady melody of African marimbas. For once, the amphitheater attracted an audience to enjoy live authentic African tunes from the Chinyakare Ensemble.
Physics and Astronomy professor Eric Harpell organized the entire event with the blessing of Cindy Rosefield, the de facto music event coordinator. According to Harpell, the rare use of the amphitheater inspired him to pursue a performing arts grant.
The grant was approved and he had secured funding to sponsor a musical performance for the school. He immediately employed the help of Catherine Ndungu-Case, a friend of his founder of the Cheza Nami foundation. She was the key for bringing in the Chinyakare Ensemble to LPC’s door.
“I know a lot of folks here who would really benefit from some cultural programming from that part of the world,” Ndungu-Case said. “I wanted to partner with the school to be able to afford the students and staff an opportunity to travel to a different part of the globe without having to leave their campus.”
For nearly an hour and a half, the seven members of the Chinyakare Ensemble connected an LPC audience to Africa with their music, dance, interactive performances and short anecdotes.
Chinyakare means “We are many, all in the deep tradition of the arts of our ancestors” in the native language of Zimbabwe, ChiShona. One Zimbabwean instrument of theirs called the mbira illustrates this. It is a tuned idiophone forged by the grandparents of Augustine Basa, a band member.
Basa sang as the harvest song and dance, Madé, was played on the marimbas, drums and mbira while band members danced to it.
Another traditional African instrument used was a chipendani, a one stringed mouth bow. Russ Landers, a band member, played a tune about baboons using it by palpating the strings.
To get the crowd into the music, one of their songs required the crowd to chant “Chemutenguré”. It literally means wagon driver but it is a metaphor about work. “It’s about the hard challenges and the joy of work,” Russ said. Basa’s booming voice cued the crowd in to chanting “Chemutenguré” back.
The modest-sized crowd managed to gather up enough energy for a dance led by Telisa Chkamba. Children, parents, students and teachers all danced along with the sounds of African tribal music. For a while, they were inundated in music that originated from a different continent.
Basa, a Zimbabwean native, joined the group when he arrived in 2010. His mother had wanted a way to keep African tradition alive while being in a foreign land. To stave away homesickness, she started teaching people Zimbabwean dances and songs, according to Landers.
At the end of the performance, the crowd was invited to ask questions. The crowd then learned that the ngundu and chuma are traditional headdresses worn by men and women respectively for special ceremonies. The ngundu, a headdress made from ostrich feathers, is exclusively worn by men. The chuma, a hair band made of beads, are hand made and worn by the women. Both are used as a respectful gesture when playing traditional music.
Not only did the audience catch a glimpse of African music, they learned about a culture. “Exposure to diversity affords people an opportunity to be more respectful and also to understand why people behave the way they do” Ngundu-Case said. “We go beyond sharing diversity. Being able to afford students an opportunity to learn diversity, we also afford them an opportunity to learn about the performing arts.”
As a teacher and a native of Kenya herself, Ngundu-Case knows the power of music in sharing knowledge. “Music is the best way to learn anything,” she said. “Music has a way of touching the part of the brain that opens up other doorways of learning and research has proven it. So through music, you can really learn a lot.”
On that note, the amphitheater turned into a classroom for an evening. Now, beside the Barbara Mertes Center for the Arts, it sits patiently, waiting for the next teacher to come while the green grass grows and grows around it.