One of the things that struck me during my return trip to Ghana was talent, and how it can come from almost anywhere. And that when it is recognized and cultivated incredible things can happen.
The first day I visited the Bizung School I sat in a classroom talking to the students and observing how at ease and comfortable they seemed once they were around the music. Without instruction or direction, they knew exactly what to do and where to go, laughing and shyly sharing their thoughts with me about what life is like in Tamale, their experience at the music school, and the hopes they have for the future.
It took a few minutes for everyone to come together, but once the drums started to play and the dance teacher began to move, the students followed his lead and a complex traditional dance was soon underway, where no one missed a step. Despite the rain, the cracks in the concrete courtyard and the peeling paint everyone barely noticed once they started to dance.
As Program Director, the majority of my time consists of speaking, emailing or texting with in-country staff. Part of my role is to learn the challenges each team in each country faces, and then work to find solutions. During this trip, myself and Bizung founder and accomplished musician, Mohammed Alidu, a native of Tamale, were able to assess and make improvements to the school, including the paint and the floor, and develop strategies to provide more students an opportunity to attend music classes.
Another part of my job is to observe and understand the progress of our students and how we can best support them in their arts education journey. The talent of these incredible kids isn’t hard to find.
“Before I write any song I look at my society, myself, the country as a whole and the world at large. I look at what the challenges people face and use that in a song for people to hear and get what you really want them to understand”
That’s what advanced student, Halik shared with me about his process of writing a song. He, along with another long-time student, Yussif are now training and developing as teachers, in addition to continuing to learn and grow in their music classes. Not only are they recording their own songs and performing with their fellow students throughout Ghana, they are also passing their knowledge onto a whole new group of kids. These kids, like them, who came to the school with dreams, a desire to learn and a hope that they can make their lives better.
Despite the challenges that persist in Ghana, and there are a few including poverty, limited ability for many families’ to financially support their children’s education, and in Northern Ghana, in particular, early marriage, the Bizung School stands out as a welcoming beacon for the youth in Ghana, both boys and girls, from all background. A place where they can learn, experience joy and share their talent with the world.
I’ll be sharing more from my recent trip to our program in Ghana soon.