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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
Current and former students from Berklee College of Music in Boston recently returned to the United States after three weeks in Kenya. They were part of a cultural exchange program aiming to influence lives through music. They taught music, performed and donated instruments to a Kenyan community center. They also learned about traditional Kenyan music.
Music is an important part of life in Kenya. Sam Lutomia works for the Berklee College of Music. But he was born and spent his early years in Kenya. He helped to create a group called Global Youth Groove. Its goal is to bring western music to young Kenyans, and get them to consider music as a career.
Mr. Lutomia says he started talking with Berklee students and teachers, and they all liked the idea. Then they started collecting musical instruments.
Thirteen Americans made the trip to Kenya in July. They included four high school students from the Boston area. The first stop was Nairobi. There, they got a chance to meet with local musicians and listen to them play.
Project coordinator Aaron Colverson says the American group presented a gift during a visit to Kakamega in western Kenya. The gift included about 20 instruments, some recorders and an entire drum kit. The Americans also gave out laptop computers and recording software.
Many Kenyans attended the activities offered by the group. One Berklee student, David Chapman, said for some of the Kenyans, it was the first time to see and touch such instruments. Aaron Colverson says music can give someone a sense of power. When you put music in front of children, he says, it seems that their minds open up. Music gives them a chance to express themselves through songs and writing the songs.
The Americans also performed at a national music festival. During the trip, Aaron Colverson says, they met with local musicians and listened to them play. They also learned about traditional Kenyan instruments, dances and songs.
Trip organizer Sam Lutomia says he is happy with the levels of energy the exchange program has produced. He hopes the trip will take place every year and expand to neighboring countries.