As I am writing this post a nostalgic feeling consumes my body. What I learned and experienced exceeded my expectations and goals. When applying to the World of Work Fellowship, I wrote about my desire to understand better the Afro-Dominican traditions as one of my main goals. I never imagined how immersed I was going to be in the process of learning about it.
Throughout the summer we had seven projects to work on, one of them was the “Escuela de Atabales” in the Romana. During that project we worked together with a Portador de Tradicion, a person in charge of preserving and continuing the traditions in the community, to inaugurate a school that teaches how to play different rhythms of Palos and Gaga as well as its history. It was the first time I visited the Romana. The specific place where the school was build is an impoverished community, which means that it has little or no space for investing in the youth people living there. Therefore, the Escuela de Atabales served as tool not only to pass information about history and tradition but also to organized the youth into something positive. When I first joined the organization I never imagined how impactful the projects I would be working on were to the target communities.
After spending my summer working with Cofradia I understood that I want my work as an artist to reach beyond a museum or gallery space. I want to share my skills with communities that are underrepresented and with the help of others create spaces for healing and learning throughout different artistic practices. Many of the artists that I met during this summer share their skills with underprivileged people, especially young people. For instance, Camilo Rijo Fulcar who with a group of other musician started giving free music classes in the Conde. Although the lessons were open to everyone they focuzed more on the children who work in the area as boot cleaners. Eventually, this idea turned into an organization call Asoartca, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asoartca/1595308404051068?pnref=lhc. I found this very inspiring, as I saw the great impact it did on the children. In a system that makes childhood available to only those that can afford it, creating a space for learning, play and community is an essential for our future generation.
If someone is interested in working with Fundacion Cultural Cofradia or in a field that requires the interaction with people from a range of social class and customs one has to be open and respectful towards people’s believes. You do not have to agree with everything you experience but you have to leave your pride outside the door. At the same time be ready to manage the frustration that comes with trying to reach out to government sites in charge of supporting the advancement of these communities. Other than that be ready to step out of your comfort zone, the Fundacion Cultural Cofradia wants you to learn, explore, and experience everything the the Afro-traditions in the Dominican Republic can offer.
What I am the most proud this summer was my willingness to challenge myself. I traveled to different parts of the country to collect information for the organization. In many instances I thought I was not ready for the job. Then I understood that there is not a special manual to do new things, you just have to bring your knowledge and an open heart and mind to make mistakes and learn from them.
- Daniela Marquez 17