April 3, 2014 | Events, Student Event
On Friday, March 21, a group of 16 young people from a social work agency in Berlin, Germany, called Gangway e.v. visited New York as part of a hip-hop exchange called the “Bronx Berlin Connection.” The group spent the afternoon at Guttman to take part in “Cultural Exchange Day.” A committee of 30 Guttman students organized the exchange program, which included a lunch, a spoken-word writing workshop and a performance showcase/open mic event in the evening, hosted by Guttman Student Success Advocate Randy Moore and DJ’ed by one of the Bronx Berlin Connection alumni.
The event began with an ice breaker where everyone went around the room and stated their name and a song that represented them. The ice breaker was well received as everyone got to know each other through music. Following the ice breaker the group was encouraged to separate by sitting next to someone they did not know to have lunch.
The writing workshop consisted of six groups that each focused on a different theme: society, love, justice, family, music and love. Each group created a piece of writing (song, poem, verse, etc.,) that represented its assigned theme. After presenting their work, the entire group then created a “masterpiece” (a combined work of everyone’s writing) to present as the opening act at the Open Mic event in the evening.
Guttman’s Atrium was transformed into a performance arena with students, faculty, staff and guests from Germany ready to showcase their talent. Performances included The Gangway Beatz group from Berlin, Guttman students Hector Baltazar and Tori Brooks among many other talented individuals. This cross-cultural exchange day was well received by participants. “The event was a huge success,” said Guttman student Adelfa Peralta. “I’m grateful that Olad and Katie brought this opportunity to Guttman. I cannot wait to see this become a Guttman tradition and continue setting the bar and opening our doors and arms for our students in ways they haven’t before.”
Instructor Katie Wilson and an event planning committee created the program with support from a number of Guttman students including Daquan Allison and Adelfa Peralta. The event planning committee was comprised of some key players from OPCE, Student Engagement and the Peer Mentor program namely, Tiffany Bailey, Carolee Ramsay, Danny Ambrose and Carlos Burgos. The event served as an opportunity for the young people from Germany and Guttman Community College to get to know each other’s respective cultures. It also served as a forum for individuals to exchange transformative ideas most pressing to urban youth around the world. This exchange specifically leveraged hip-hop music and culture as a defining and universal mode of communication and understanding for youth to transcend language or nationality.
About GANGWAY E.V
GANGWAY E.V. has over 20 years experience working in youth development and re-engagement. What once began as a political reaction to increased gang activity in Berlin in the district of Kreuzberg with one team of three Social Workers has grown into the largest Street Work organization in Germany, employing 50 Social Workers who are active in almost every district of Berlin. Gangway affects approximately 3,000 young people’s lives in Berlin every year. The GangwayBeatz Program was initiated almost five years ago. It began as a Berlin-based initiative but has grown into a transatlantic exchange, bringing together marginalized young people from every district of Berlin and all boroughs of New York City. The program gives young people a chance to be heard. It utilizes the Hip Hop culture as an alternative educational tool and as a method to connect with young people. It also allows young people, who for many reasons have faced incredible adversity, to express themselves in their own language and on their own terms. The program also gives them an opportunity to be part of an international family with a common goal.
THE BRONX-BERLIN CONNECTION engages youth from around the world in a cultural exchange that leverages the global youth culture of hip hop to explore and express the unique experiences of urban youth around the world, the critical challenges they face, and the solutions necessary to enact change in their communities. Using the same beats, common lyrical themes, yet, different languages on different continents, young people from around the world study one other’s lives, cultures and commonalities. In 2010 and 2012 BBC students from New York, Berlin, London and Paris produced multi-lingual, cross-cultural tracks from afar that were released and celebrated when they met face-to-face in Berlin.
View more photos of the event.