My City Needs...

Students at Parkway NW High School for Peace and Social Justice. Photo by Aidan Un. 

Students at Parkway NW High School for Peace and Social Justice. Photo by Aidan Un. 

In addition to performances, Intercultural Journeys also offers a variety of educational opportunities to youth in Philadelphia and the surrounding region. These engagements can range from one-time performances or discussions featuring our season artists to full-scale arts and social residencies. The goal with our educational programming is to use the arts to inspire and cultivate social consciousness and awareness - something that is often lacking in general education. All too frequently, youth are confronted with challenging issues in their own communities and are left with little guidance on how to process the things they are confronted with as well as their relationships with each other, their community, and the world at large. Our residency program is called Arts and Agency, and you can find updates on our various residencies under the appropriate header on our main website. 

Recently, we completed our first Arts and Agency residency at Parkway NW High School for Peace and Social Justice. The Native Portals Education Project was created in collaboration with our 2015/16 season artist, 2016 Pew Fellow and 2015 Leeway Transformation Award Winner Lela Aisha Jones. During the residency, Lela worked with the ninth grade students to to create pathways and entry points for students to continually explore individual agency, social responsibility, social consciousness, and social action through movement and creative process. You can read more about the residency, including comments from Lela and the students and watch videos documenting the process by clicking on the link below, or by traveling to the Arts and Agency header above, and select "Parkway NW High School." 

IJ Welcomes Two New Members to the Board of Directors

Philadelphia, PA—Intercultural Journeys is pleased to welcome Renee Garcia, a Senior Counsel for PNC Bank, and Miriam Fisher Schaefer, Interim Director of Finance and Operations for Friends Central School, to the Board of Directors. Both women were elected to the Board in June 2015.

"We are thrilled to have Miriam and Renee join our Board of Directors. Miriam brings extensive non-profit financial and executive expertise and Renee legal expertise, and, both of which will undoubtedly propel IJ forward as we continue to boost our programs and audience in the Philadelphia area," said Intercultural Journeys Board Chair, Stacy Maria Dutton. "Intercultural Journeys is one of the leading organizations in Philadelphia using the arts for social change and to bridge cultural differences. The election of these two talented women is a reflection of our growth and an investment in our future."

Ms. Schaefer currently serves as Interim Director of Finance and Operations at Friends Central School in Wynnewood, PA.  She previously worked at several non-profit and corporate organizations in Philadelphia.  After earning her M.B.A. from Columbia University, Ms. Schaefer held finance positions with the Chemical Heritage Foundation, American Friends Service Committee, American Express, Avon Products, and The Franklin Mint.

Ms. Garcia specializes in mortgage litigation with PNC Bank and serves on PNC Bank's Legal Department Pro Bono Committee.  Ms. Garcia received her J.D. from Harvard Law School where she was active with the Harvard Immigration Project, Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Environmental Law Review, and Women’s Law Association.  Prior to serving as Senior Counsel for PNC Bank, Ms. Garcia was an Associate with Hogan Lovells LLP and handled a variety of litigation and pro bono matters.  She has also held positions at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, LLP, Lawyers for Children, Inc. and the Open Society Foundations' Office of General Counsel. 

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Announcing the 2015/16 Season: The Artistry of Identity and Transformation

Since 2001, Intercultural Journeys has been driven by a mission of pairing dialogue with live music performance as a means of promoting greater understanding and peace among communities of different faiths and cultures. Having presented over 150 concerts throughout the U.S. and internationally, Intercultural Journeys has been successfully sharing its message of peace and reconciliation with eager audiences worldwide.

As we refocus our efforts in the greater Philadelphia region, we are broadening our programming to present innovative collaborations and compelling artists from different disciplines who represent diverse cultural perspectives. In addition to featuring these artists in live performance, Intercultural Journeys maintains a commitment to facilitating dialogue and community exchange with our artists throughout the season via workshops, panel discussions, arts residencies, pre/post-concert talks, and other forums. We are also developing new creative partnerships with other local organizations and institutions to expand our programmatic reach, such as our valued partnership with the International House of Philadelphia where we are currently presenting our season concerts.

We are thrilled to announce our upcoming 2015/16 season, The Artistry of Identity and Transformation, in which we consider the relationships between artistic practice, cultural identity, and the role of artistry in social transformation. Below you will find more information about each of the featured artists this season. We will soon be sending out more season updates as we schedule our community engagement activities. We look forward to connecting with you this season through meaningful dialogue and captivating performances.

Alex Shaw, Curator &  Lindsey S. Crane, Managing Director

Click to download the 15/16 Season Postcard

Mighty Be Our Powers

By: Lindsey Crane

I recently finished reading Mighty Be Our Powers by Liberian activist and Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gbowee.  As I was reading it, I was struck by several things.  First, I think this novel should be considered required reading for any young woman. In fact, I plan on giving it to my niece when she’s old enough to handle and comprehend the atrocity of war.  Leymah’s writing is brutally honest. She walks the reader through her struggles, much of it personal, during her country’s time of crisis and her relentless desire to bring an end to the conflict. The way that Leymah and other activists were able to make such an impact on their country was through the empowerment of women- including the act of refusing sex to force men from the various rebel factions to come together for peace talks- is inspiring for any woman to read. Leymah’s story is a very valuable lesson in perseverance. While her story is made more impactful nestled again the backdrop of a brutal conflict, what she stands for - her values and tireless work ethic- can easily be applied to other situations.

I was also struck by how personal this book was. I don’t know what I could or should have been expecting, but I suppose I was anticipating a memoir that focused more squarely on the Liberian Civil Wars. While the wars figure very prominently, the majority of the book centers around Leymah’s personal struggles during a time of international crisis – conflicts with alcohol, her ex-husband, and even conflicts with other female advocates.  I am impressed by her bravery and honestly, and I think the inclusion of the details bring the book to a level of understanding that any woman can relate to. It was serves as an important reminder that when war happens, it is easy to forget the other complications and conflicts that happen in life.

Something else caught me as I read the book. I found myself imagining the terrible atrocities of the Liberian civil wars as I read Leymah’s detailed descriptions. It was difficult to read about such evil and horror, but I couldn’t help but think that war and humanitarian strife have become commonplace. As I write this post, there are no fewer than 30 active or potential conflicts across the world, and 10 of those are located in Africa (source: Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Conflict Tracker).  Global conflicts, resulting in humanitarian crises, have become so prevalent, that I’m worried I’ve become desensitized to the issue.  Yes, I was moved by Leymah’s brave writing, but I also was not shocked by anything she wrote.  I found myself comparing the Liberian civil war to other African conflicts – the on-going destabilization of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the horrible Rwandan genocide. Conflict, it seems nowadays, is so ubiquitous – just another “fact” in our everyday lives.

Mighty Be Our Powers, shows how important it is for everyone to participate in the peace process. There is something for everyone to do – for those involved, and for those watching 3,000 miles away.  It’s important to stay aware of conflicts and tensions happening abroad, and in our own communities. By being aware, we are becoming active participants in the peace process – awareness, I think, is the first step.

Photo of Leymah Gbowee (Source: Nobel Women's Initiative)

Photo of Leymah Gbowee (Source: Nobel Women's Initiative)

Liberty Medal Award Winner: Malala Yousafzai

By Lindsey Crane

On Tuesday, October 21, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal Award ceremony.  This year’s ceremony honored Pakistani children’s advocate, Malala Yousafzai.   I was joined by Intercultural Journeys Board member and Co-Founder Carole Haas Gravagno, Board member Fariha Khan (who was fortunate enough to attend with her three children) and patron Lou Oschmann, in addition to hundreds of other area students, citizens, and dignataries.  Fariha was actually the first person to tell me that Malala would be receiving the Liberty Medal and I am so glad that she did.  Once I heard that this courageous young woman would be in Philadelphia, I knew I had to try and get tickets.  Thankfully, the good people at the National Constitution Center understand the importance of making an event like this accessible to the wider community.  Not only do they have general admission tickets free of charge (first come, first served), they also broadcast the ceremony on their website, allowing everyone with access to the internet the chance to see Malala receive this special award.

Unsurprisingly, there was a huge crowd in attendance.  The ceremony took place on Independence Mall, in front of the National Constitution Center (NCC) and on the opposite end of historic Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed.  There were a number of dignitaries in attendance, including our own Mayor Michael A. Nutter (with well-spoken daughter, Olivia Nutter), the Honorable Edward Rendell, and even Masood Khan, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations.  I was particularly excited about one speaker who made a special trip to honor Malala: Minnijean Brown Trickey, one of the infamous Little Rock nine, a group of nine African American students who were the first to integrate into Little Rock, Arkansas’ previously segregated public schools.   

After many introductions, Malala took the stage and delivered one of the most inspirational speeches I’ve ever had the opportunity to hear.  If I had a daughter (or a son, for that matter) I would have insisted on them attending the ceremony with me.  We all sat in silence (and perhaps tears) as we heard her impassioned pleas for justice for children all across the world.  To hear her speak, it’s easy to forget that Malala is just 17 years old.  The entire audience shared a laugh at one point in the evening when she reminded us all that she is still a student finishing her secondary education in England.  

It meant a lot to me to be able to see Malala in person and hear her story.  While there are certainly challenges to our education system in the U.S., it was not lost on me that I am deeply fortunate to live in a country where I did not have to worry about having access to a quality education.  I cannot imagine what it would be like if I could not attend school simply because of my gender, but I certainly hope that I would have had the courage that Malala had in standing up against the injustices imposed by the Taliban.  Malala left us all with the notion that the fight for justice, education, and the right’s for children everywhere is not over; there’s still much to be done.

See photos of the evening.

Watch Malala's Liberty Medal Award speech.

Watch the New York Times documentary of Malala's life and work.

Update: Prior to the Liberty Medal Award ceremony, the world learned that Malala would also win the Nobel Peace Prize (by the way, she's the youngest recipient of either award). On Wednesday, December 10, 2014 she formally received the prize in Oslo, Norway.