Writing, story-telling and song for children

As part of the ceremonial launch of the mural, dance students from PS189 entertained in the chool yard participating classes.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Haiti Cultural Exchange (HCX) is sponsoring a series of writing workshops for girls and also storytelling and song workshops for children this summer. This is all part of HCX’s dynamic multi-generational programming.

Girls, ages 9-17, especially of Haitian descent, are encouraged to sign up for The Daughters of Anacaona Writing Project. The free 10-seession workshops meet Tuesdays, Wednesday & Thursdays from 1-3:30 p.m. from July 24 to Aug. 9 at the YWCA of Brooklyn, 30 Third Ave.

Targeted primarily toward Haitian immigrant and first generation teen girls residing in Brooklyn, the writing project is intended to cultivate empowerment, creativity, cultural awareness, community service, and college and career readiness.

One of the teachers is Haitian-born writer Ibi Zoboi–whose short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and is a teaching artist in New York City public schools with Community-Word Project and Teachers & Writers Collaborative.

Haitian-American writer, performer, and youth worker Jennifer Celestin is also teaching the workshops. (Additionally, on Saturday, July 28 at Jennifer Celestin will spin tales as part of Haiti Cultural Exchange’s summer storytelling and song workshops. The location is to be announced.)

The writing workshops will culminate in a yearly publication of an anthology including the participants’ best work and a reading for invited family, friends, teachers, and community members.

For more information contact [email protected].

Meanwhile, dancer and musician Goussy Celestine will round out the storytelling sessions on Sept. 15, location to be announced. Check the website: haiticulturalx.org/program-04.

P.S. 189 Principal Berthe Faustin congratulates students on a project “well done” at the unveiling of the Ti Artis Collaborative Mural project.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

This summer’s programming continues the exciting work that Haiti Cultural Exchange is doing with children. During two consecutive Saturdays in February, a team of HCX volunteers succeeded in transforming a drab arts room at bilingual PS 189 in Crown Heights into an engaging arts space.

In April HCX began another ambitious project, the Ti Artis (Little Artist) Collaborative Mural.

The school and community came up with what they wanted represented in the mural and the theme was developed: “Love is not just a word but a way of life.”

Artistic concepts along with designs and sketches from the participating eighteen children in the 6th to 8th grades found their way into bright primary colors on the wall in the schoolyard. Outlines of the actual student-artists became a major theme with figures holding hands. Art flourished under the creative eye of art teacher/artist Jean Patrick Icart-Pierre.

The designs were transferred to the wall during two full Saturdays in June. Jeanne Heifetz coordinated 30 adult volunteers who primed the wall, created a grid to lay down the mural outline, and helped paint. Anything students could reach by standing on the ground, they painted. Volunteers climbed the scaffolding.

Now, as one peers through the schoolyard’s cyclone fence along Rockaway Parkway, a bold upbeat wall mural shouts out to anyone passing by.

During the last week of school, donned in their school uniforms, P.S. 189 classes with participating students sat under the hot sun for the formal unveiling. Greeted by Principal Berte Faustin, participating student-artists were offered the opportunity to speak about what the mural meant to them. Repeated more than once, students echoed the mural’s theme: “Love is not just a word but a way of life.”

Volunteers who helped paint the mural echo the mural painting and the theme.
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Photo by Tequila Minsky

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