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Culture and Arts

Moving History’s summer program takes a hands-on approach to teaching African culture

 Drumming circles, cooking classes and dance performances are all on the schedule for a group of West Baltimore kids participating in a free summer enrichment program at The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Community Engagement Center.

Put on by Moving History, the program is designed to teach African culture and history and culture through hands-on immersive experiences.

“There’s so many different types of learners,” said Moving History director Breai Michele.

Over the course of several weeks, students will learn about the African diaspora during a cooking class, and how the Mali Empire used drums to communicate at long distances.

“If you’re sitting in history class with a book talking about those things it’s a little different than sitting down and learning the rhythms and understanding that this rhythm comes from a place,” explained Michele, “embodying education is a really powerful way to really have a deep experience of the lesson.”

The students will also participate in dance, step and voice classes. Soon-to-be 8th grader Cortly Witherspoon is really enjoying both cooking and drumming.

“It’s a different thing when you’re just being shown it. But when you actually get to do it, it’s a fully immersive experience,” said Witherspoon.

A fully immersive experience that Michele believes has the power to bring people together.

“If we can have people who love and respect themselves and in turn have people who are maybe outside of the community come in to learn and know and love that community because they’ve danced or played music or they’ve made art or they’ve made food. I really do think that we can have a more tightly woven community of people who are caring for one another,” said Michele.

The summer program is just about over but Moving History offers programs throughout the school year. 

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