Friday, April 17, was a very exciting date for at Brookwood as Performing Arts Coordinator Debbie Gantt left for Rwanda as the fourth teacher to participate in our Teacher Exchange program with the FAWE School in Kigali.
“My schedule at FAWE is so exciting! I will be there two weeks and will be meeting with their interact club and cultural dancing groups. These clubs are a mix of grades and ages,” Debbie says. “I am bringing six ukuleles, one Autoharp, and one keyboard. It is probably within these club settings that I will get to teach these instruments to the FAWE girls. They have never had any formal instrumental education. I am sure they will be teaching me new songs and dances as well.”
Debbie will facilitate a great deal of interaction between Brookwood and FAWE students, while she is there and when she returns to Brookwood. “I hope to record four songs with the girls that I will bring back to Brookwood so we can have an interactive performance with our students,” she says adding, “I also plan to bring back songs and rhythms that they teach me and hope to share these with Lower and Middle school students when I return.”
Debbie plans to share her experience live with Brookwood students via technology. “I am Skyping with Brookwood teachers and students on two different afternoons while I am there,” she says. She will also post frequently on Brookwood’s Global Classroom blog.
Besides teaching at FAWE, Debbie will visit a primary school. “I have the opportunity to spend three days at APAPEC Primary School in Kigali. Both Jane Pirie and Maile Black, [Brookwood’s two previous Exchange Educators], had opportunities to teach and tour there. It sounds like they have me teaching music while I am there and I’m ready! I plan to record my sessions with them, so others can share in this experience,” she says.
Debbie, aside her time at the school, will also take in a few cultural opportunities. She will go to Kigali for a tour of the Gisozi Memorial Centre and go on a Gorilla Trek as well.
Following her time at FAWE, she will head to South Africa where she will both teach and be the guest conductor of a boys choir. “I have been invited to teach for three days at Bergville Primary School in South Africa. This is a brand new connection for Brookwood,” she says. “I also have been invited to guest conduct at the Drakensburg Boys Choir School in Winterton, South Africa. This choir is performing at the Music in the Mountains Festival the day I arrive! I am going straight to the festival to watch them.”
As with FAWE, Debbie hopes to bring South African music and rhythms back to Brookwood. “I plan on bringing back some interesting choral arrangements from the directors of the Drankensburg Boys Choir School for our Brookwood students. I hope to teach the boys choir two songs that I will record and feature in a live performance with our students at Revels next year."
There is one thing that Debbie is anticipating more than any of her exciting destinations and activities. She says she is most looking forward to, “Meeting the people! I can't wait to see how we interact and get to know each other through a musical connection. I think it will be really inspiring for me, and ultimately for Brookwood.”