A group of ten students from Kliptown, an impoverished village in Soweto, South Africa, performed in the Lowell Center on January 15.
The students, all members of the Kliptown Youth Program, visited a number of schools in the area, hoping to make new connections as well as raise money for their program.
The program serves about 400 young people, helping them with homework and giving them a sense of community. Most people in the town of 44,000 live in metal shacks with no electricity or running water. Facing the challenges of poverty, many students decide to drop out of school and end up in a life of crime. The village also faces health problems including HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy.
The dance was started by poor gold and diamond workers as a way to communicate with each other despite their language differences. While learning much about the world during their travels, the Kliptown Youth Program group also wanted to share something from their own tradition. During the performance, DCD students were invited to join them on stage and try it out themselves.
The exchanges with the Soweto group began more than 10 years ago through a connection at Nobles, where students have traveled to Kliptown to work on service projects in their community.