For two weeks during winter break, 15 Knox students along with Professor of Dance Jen Smith studied dance and music in Ghana and immersed themselves in the culture. Their trip balanced tourist and workshop experiences, allowed them to study at a cultural institute at a small village, and visit a national park and the Cape Coast. At their debriefing meeting, TKS sat down to talk with some of the participants about what the experience was like.
TKS: What prompted you to get involved with the program?
“I hadn’t gone abroad at all and saw this as an opportunity to do a program that I was really interested in, to go to Africa and see more of the world in a smaller and cheaper timetable.” – senior Paul Kenney
“I was drawn to the program because there’s something pulling me to the African continent. I had been so interested in investigating West African dance and learning that with drumming as well was something that I was really excited about, [especially] being able to share that exploration with other students at Knox.” – senior Evelyn Langley
TKS: What was the most valuable part of the experience?
“While we were there, we were able to learn an entire dance and drumming piece [in five and a half days]. Then we were able to [perform] it with the staff and basically the entire community that the center was in because everybody knows dance and the music goes with it.” – Langley
TKS: What did you learn?
“I think one of the biggest things was greater self-confidence. I wasn’t a dancer and this trip involved a lot of dancing. But it was great to go in and everyone in the group was a beginner at this type of dance.” – senior Katrina Rudolf
“Being able to interact with all the people there, going to the arts mart, going to these markets and talking with the people, [I] got a better understanding of what life is like in Ghana.” – Kenney
TKS: What surprised you?
“The way music and dance is integrated into most of West African culture is so different in that it’s something that’s really a part of their culture. It’s a participatory activity, it’s not reserved for those who are the experts. It’s a part of funerals, it’s a part of birth, it’s a part of everyday life. It’s not just for the few, it’s for everyone.” – Smith