As we wrap up our work during the final stages of the exhibition project our teens decided to share some thoughts about their overall experience with the Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar project.
Here is what some of them had to say about the project:
Great experience going to Joloff and eating Senegalese food. Brittney E.
This project was a lot of work, but I enjoyed learning about Dakar and the dance classes we took at Cumbe. Sheeba B.
I learned a lot about Dakar, Senegal and Senegalese culture. Erica N.
I’m putting filmmaker on my resume and the project has given me a better understanding of Africa and Senegal. Brionna U.
I enjoyed learning to work with people in a group, gaining leadership skills, and tasting the Senegalese food at Joloff restaurant. Jinelle T.
It opened my eyes to Senegalese culture and I can now say I am a curator. Rayanna A.
The great thing about doing projects like this is that you can engage participants on many different levels. Some will like project-based work, others filmmaking, others research and writing, others will enjoy design, while still others will enjoy the cultural immersion like the dancing, drumming and food tasting that we participated in.
We’re really excited that our students were able to get so many things out of the process, skills that will help them academically and in life.
For our last interview, our teens returned to Brooklyn’s famous Joloff restaurant where we sat down with Papa Diagme to learn more about his life and career as Senegalese restaurant owner and chef. Papa Diagme and his wife have been in business since 1995. On our first trip to Joloff some of our teens experienced Senegalese cuisine for the very first time. They really enjoyed the traditional dishes we ordered last time so after our interview with Papa Diagme we treated them to some more delicious Senegalese food and beverages!
Photograph of Papa Diagme, owner of Joloff Restaruant.
After revisiting Fulton Street, our teens were able to find more Senegalese influenced businesses in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Some of the places they found include a barber shop, a jewelery store, and a small cafe called Le Paris Dakar. While exploring the neighborhood they also spoke to several business owners as they photographed their experience.
Food menu found on the sidewalk in front of Le Paris Dakar.
In order to maximize the amount of time we have left to work on the project, we decided to split the NSBD team into four teams: the exhibit design team, the curation team, the research team, and the web team. Members from each team will rotate in and out of different groups as needed, but everyone has a specific are of focus for the remainder of the project.
The exhibit team is responsible for drafting the final layout of the exhibit. The curation team is responsible for selecting the images and assets that will be included in the exhibit. The research team has to ensure that the information presented is both interesting and accurate. Finally, the web team will launch a full project web site that encompasses the work of both groups, the students in Senegal and Brooklyn, will include downloads.
During a recent trip to the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market, located in Harlem, New York, our teens witnessed the bustling community of African immigrants living and working along West 116th Street. On our way to the market we stopped to photograph the various stores and local businesses in the community. Many of the establishments we found there were reminiscent of some of the places we located during our Fulton Street excursion in Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York.
Here are some of the photographs we took during our Harlem trip:
Photograph of local establishments along W 116th Street, located in Harlem, New York.
Photograph of the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market welcome sign.
On our last visit to Cumbe, our teens had the honor of finishing their eight week-long Senegalese performing arts learning experience with a final drum circle workshop courtesy the very talented Konate Primus. Before starting the drum lesson, our teens sat down with Konate for a 30-minute interview about his life as an African American drummer, who was heavily influenced by Senegalese arts and culture.
Konate was born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents of both American and West Indian descent. He describes his childhood as being similar to that of any other typical child growing up in Brooklyn, New York, except the only difference is instead of hanging out with friends he spent hours learning and practicing African drum rhythms at his parents’ dance school. Although his parents were not of Senegalese descent, Konate and his family had a deep appreciation for the Senegalese culture, which led them to adopt many of the Senegalese customs they practiced at home.
Even after the interview ended, Konate continued to share wonderful stories about how drumming and Senegalese culture has influenced his life and contributed to his growth as a drummer.
NSBD teens interviewing Konate Primus.
NSBD learning sabar with Konate Primus.
Once again our adventure has brought us back to Cumbe! This time our students learned percussion with master percussionists Lamine Thiam and Konate Primus.
Lamine Thiam is a world-renowned dancer, choreographer, drummer, and actor. Born in Senegal, Lamine specializes in traditional West African dance and rhythms such as sabar, djembe, and bougarrabou. He has studied at the Consevatoire National du Senegal (in Dakar) and performed with the Songomar African Dance Comapany and Ballet Jo-Kolly.
After interviewing Lamine, our teens sat down with our instructor, Konate Primus and learned about sabar, a traditional drumming style, which developed in ways similar to American jazz. The sabar rhythm we practiced was called takk ci ripp.
Photograph of Lamine Thiam.
Konate Primus teaching NSBD teens how to play the takk ci ripp rhythm.
During our final week of learning contemporary dance with Papa Sy, our teens had the honor of meeting the legendary Malang Bayo, master dancer, choreographer and former member of the National Ballet of Senegal. After greeting Mr. Bayo and learning about his recent visit to Senegal our teens sat down with him for a 30-minute interview.
During the interview our teens learned about Mr. Bayo’s exciting career. Malang Bayo is a very accomplished artist. His entire career has been devoted to teaching the art of African song and dance. He is well versed in the folklore and dance of the Wolof, Mandinka, Djola, and Bambara people of Senegal. His own performance company, Mussukeba Sane West African Ballet was founded in 1992. They have performed lectures and demonstrations for schools and colleges throughout the country. In addition to this Malang Bayo has also provided choreography for several dance companies, including Silimbo D’Adeane West African Dance company in Boston, Maimouna Keita School of African Dance in New York, and Teye’ Sa Thiossanne African Dance Company in San Diego.
Photograph of Malang Bayo during the interview.
Our teens have been working on the Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar project for over 6 months now! During this time they have had the opportunity to meet and interview many artists that have made significant contributions to the growing Senegalese community in central Brooklyn. The knowledge acquired from these interviews combined with their research has taught them many exciting new facts about Dakar as well as the various ways Senegalese migration has been impacting their community.
Here is what some our teens have to say about the experience so far:
The project has been very interesting so far. I have never done anything like it before. It has taught me a lot of fascinating facts about Dakar. Petra C.
Overall, the program has been great. It has gotten me out of the house and it has helped improve my communication and research skills. I also get to meet a lot of new people. Trevor F.
I enjoy watching videos and learning about how different news sources present information about Senegal and Mali. Jinelle T.
Speaking to people of Senegalese descent is an honor. It’s not everyday we get to meet and learn about accomplished people like Marie Basse. Senee R.
With less than three months remaining until we launch our Next Stop: Brooklyn/Dakar exhibit our teens decided that it was time to begin finalizing our ideas for the exhibit layout.
Individually we came up with a total of 15 different layout ideas! Each layout had its own a unique approach to presenting Senegalese culture to the public, but unfortunately we had to narrow it down to one. After a few hours of collaborative effort our teens finally came up with one amazing idea which they proudly shared with Marcos Stafne, the Director of Education, at Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
Photo of the exhibit layout blueprint made by NSBD teens. (Image of Side A)
Photo of the exhibit layout blueprint made by NSBD teens. (Image of Side B)