Written Content and Imagery by Roula Harfoush
He who can teach peace to the youth, he can teach it to the whole world.
Uniquely, Global Youth Village brings young people from diverse backgrounds together to learn and experience each other’s cultures in a way that encourages them to collaborate in creating peace. Global Youth Village uses creative methods to strengthen global and social bonds in a communicative atmosphere through diverse workshops, the arts, and various social activities.
Music is a major component of GYV’s multicultural programs. Music has a powerful impact on each participant. The love of music as a form of expression is common to all cultures, especially amongst youth. GYV participants openly share their culture through music and open their hearts to express themselves. Music is used in workshops and performances as youth present and share their cultures with each other.
This summer, Tom Teasley, a world renowned percussionist and sound designer, performed on the GYV stage. He took the youth villagers on an inspirational journey through the use of his music. Teasley expressed: “Music makes us one!” He played multiple pieces using traditional instruments from all over the world. The participants at GYV were passionately engaged with Tom as he taught them rhythms using their hands, feet, vocals, and percussion instruments.
Oussama, an Algarian participant of GYV, reflected, “It can be challenging for someone who does not speak the language to join others’ conversations, but it is easier to follow the rhythm!”
Another participant, Maroua said: “If we are able to make such beautiful music with mixing different traditional instruments from all over the world, we will definitely be able to create a diverse, peaceful community with pure souls.”
During Tom’s workshop, the youth learned how to listen, understand, and positively interact with each other through music. Hanan, another youth participant who attended Tom’s workshop, expressed, “It was really cool this overall experience because of the beautiful way Tom combined different cultures. He let me play on the drum which I never played before; it was awesome! It was sort of a call and respond thing. Tom sent a message, I received the message and then played. Wonderfully simple!”
Charles Williams, also a world renowned vocalist, teacher, and actor shared his talent, skills, and experience using music as a powerful, nonviolent tool in changing communities. He inspired GYV future peacebuilders to unite people creatively through songs. He shared songs that he and his peers used in the civil rights movement’s freedom rides throughout the southern United States.
Nick, a GYV participant who loves to write and advocate for social justice, shared his reflections: “I heard Charles say that they [freedom riders] took already meaningful church songs and translated them into songs about freedom. And it worked. It kept them inspired in their dark times so why can’t the youth of today do that? The answer is we can. We just have to have the will to do so and the courage to stand up even if we stand alone, and sing them.”
Islem, a participant from Algeria, said, “Charles made us all feel we could sing, even though we thought our voices were bad. We still can sing, no matter how bad we think we are. I now use my voice more and express myself even more using my voice.” Charles Williams, also, provided workshops to teach the youth at GYV the art of the hambone; which is an indirect folk dance for self-expressions and group collaboration.
Wided, another Algerian participant, shared, “It was so inspiring! One single class with him made it actually easier to express ourselves confidently and communicate altogether; like once, we all Americans, Algerians, Egyptians, Japanese, and Austrian started making the movements and following the rhythm, amazingly, all together. It seems we’ve been in true communication with no language needed. It was awesome. It was universal.”