The Rhythm of World Unity

Youth drumming with Randy Armstrong
Youth drumming with Randy Armstrong

A total of 39 students participated in a six-week program of World Music and West African Drumming conducted by musician, composer and educator, Randy Armstrong. This collaboration between ABC World Citizens and With Open Minds took place in Manchester, NH, in the fall of 2012 at the YMCA and Hillside Middle School working with the B.R.I.N.G.I.T. Program (Bringing Refugees, Immigrants and Neighbors Gently Into Tomorrow).

The weekly sessions focused on African drumming and rhythms and music from around the world to explore issues of cooperation, peace through music and celebrating human unity. The sessions included many young people from families that have recently emigrated to the U.S, from nations that include the Congo, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Randy notes, “It was a fantastic and enthusiastic exchange between all the participants. We had a great deal of fun, and drumming is a great vehicle to share in the cooperative spirit of music and human interaction. What a blast working with these amazing and talented students.”

With Open Minds is a New-Hampshire-based organization that offers a variety of leadership and cultural awareness programs that serve American, refugee, and immigrant teens with the goal to learn ways to achieve multicultural peace and understanding. The refugee teens are those who have recently come to the U.S. from war-torn countries. The primary focus of With Open Minds is to develop understanding, sharing, and celebration of diversity in our communities, as well as learn how to peaceably end conflict based on differences.

Musician / composer Randy Armstrong offers unity-building workshops throughout the country. He is the founder of Do’a World Music Ensemble and Unu Mondo, a faculty member at Phillips Exeter Academy and Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and has served as a governor-appointed arts councilor for the NH State Council on the Arts for nine years. Randy has toured extensively throughout the world including the U.S., Canada, Croatia, Slovenia, Cuba, Ghana and South Africa. He has composed music for more than 35 albums and film scores, as well as for a variety of stage and television productions.

The program sessions also provided opportunity for ABC-WC to collaborate with a variety of other regional organizations that are partnering with With Open Minds to serve the needs of youth, including the Manchester YMCA and B.R.I.N.G.I.T. – Bringing Refugees, Immigrants and Neighbors Gently Into Tomorrow. With Open Minds VISTA volunteer Dan Heying, Matthew Hanson, Director of Teen Services at the YMCA of Manchester, Principal Brendan McCafferty of Manchester’s Hillside Middle School, and Jodi Harper, Director of B.R.I.N.G.I.T. provided their assistance for this unique music program.

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