January 30, 2008

Mosaic Trip to South Africa, Miss. Planned

This summer and fall, ten Dickinson students will have an opportunity to travel to South Africa and the Mississippi delta to study Comparative Black Liberations Music as part of an interdisciplinary mosaic semester.

Led by Assistant Professor of History Jeremy Ball, Professor of History Kim Lacy Rogers and Assistant Professor of Music Amy Wlodarski, the mosaic participants will begin with orientation in the end of July before heading to King William’s Town, South Africa for about a month, according to the Community Studies Center Web site (www.dickinson. edu/departments/commstud). Then, during the Fall 2008 semester, participants will engage in four courses composing the interdisciplinary mosaic and will travel to Coahoma County,Miss. for three weeks. At each location, students will be in host families and will be “collaborative and involved in the two communities,” Ball told a group of students at an information session Tuesday.

Throughout the program, students and faculty will “examine two of the most internationally significant liberation movements of the twentieth century: the Anti-apartheid movement in South Africa from the 1950s through the 1990s, and the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1980s,” according to the Web site.

The program coordinators hope to have ten Dickinson students participate, to be joined by five students from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. and Dillard University in New Orleans, La., said Ball.

An ongoing portion of the mosaic will be a Web site of their interviews and findings, which Wlodarski hopes will serve as a teaching tool at Dickinson and beyond.

“One of the points of the mosaic is to give back to the people that we’ve worked with,” Ball said, indicating that creating a Web site is a way to do this. The mosaic will be worth a full semester of credits, he indicated.

Students participating in the mosaic will have the option of spending their Spring 2009 semester studying at either Morehouse or Dillard; however, this Spring 2009 component is not required.

The idea for the program came up when Ball, Rogers and Wlodarski presented a lecture that “compared the role of music in the Anti-Apartheid and Civil Rights movements,” Ball said in an e-mail.

“Working on the lecture we realized the exciting potential of using music as an analytical tool to compare and contrast two historical movements.”

Ball, Rogers and Wlodarski have been developing the program since delivering the lecture in 2006, Ball said. He added that Professor of Sociology and Community Studies Center Director Susan Rose, as well as Special Assistant to the President for Institutional and Diversity Initiatives Joyce Bylander, encouraged the team of professors to propose a mosaic.

Wlodarski commented in an e-mail, “I am most excited about…getting to work and sing with South African and Southern choirs from Mississippi.As the director of the Dickinson College Choir, I understand how powerful the experience of expressing yourself and your values through music can be.”

She continued, “I look forward to learning the music and enjoying the humanistic sharing between various music cultures.”

Rogers is also looking forward to the experience. “Students will be involved with people who created liberation movements, and their children and grandchildren, so [they]’ll be working with people…who are historical actors and survivors of great stresses but who also have a sense of themselves as part of something greater.”

She continued with excitement, “Students will be creating a documentary archives, and they will be co-creators of these life histories and oral histories.” Ball said, “We think our mosaic exemplifies the best of crossing disciplinary boundaries. People do not experience life in a particular discipline, and often it makes sense to study a subject, such as white supremacy and the Anti-Apartheid and Civil Rights movements, from multiple disciplinary angles.”

Ball is looking forward to “interviewing old folks in South African and Mississippi about their memories,” he said.

“I also can’t wait to hear choirs in both countries sing liberation music, which I find incredibly moving and inspiring.” Tiffany Mane ’10 attended the information session and is “really excited” about the opportunity. “I’m an American Studies major and my thematic is education… One of the big things we learn about is segregation and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Ryan Koons ’10 is working on a self developed major in ethnomusicology.

“I’m very excited about this because not only is it an ethnomusicology class and studying ethnomusicology with Professor Wlodarski, but it’s also completely integrated, so we’re actually going to be…doing ethnomusicology fieldwork,” he said enthusiastically. Of the program, Mane said, “It’s definitely a very Dickinson approach: connecting a global experience to our daily lives.”

Rogers concluded that the team is currently recruiting “all adventuresome scholars” for the program.

Anyone interested is encouraged to download an application from the Web site: dickinson.edu/departments/commstud