Where else but in Miami would a New England educational entrepreneur and a Liberian-American hip-hop artist create a perfect partnership?
PART 1: IAN WELCH, Educational Innovator
Ian Welsh, educator and social entrepreneur, saw a need for a learning environment that embraced cultural expression. His innovative program Motivational Edge (ME) uses music and spoken word as the tools for teaching math, reading and writing. He launched the program in Allapattah, a Miami melting pot community with residents from all across the Caribbean, Central America and Latin America; and Liberty City, whose history of prosperity in the 1930’s and 1940’s as a proud and successful African American neighborhood was disenfranchised when zoning and highway construction splintered and scattered the community.
How did a kid from Connecticut find the key to motivation in this Miami community?
PART 2: DAWYEN SEKIJIPO: Hip-hop Artist and Music Therapist
Dawyen Sekijipo joined the staff of Motivational Edge as a hip-hop artist in residence. He embodies the journey that many of these young people from Allapattah and Liberty City are facing. Born in Liberia, a West African nation pummeled by bitter civil wars and economic deprivation, he immigrated to the US and found opportunities for expression and acceptance through his talents in music and spoken word.
In the hip hop culture, rap is expressive poetry: a rhythmic style of chanting, presented in 16 bar measures using metaphors to convey a message. Sekijipo’s gifts as an artist and a mentor provided a nontraditional path to a career in education. Rap serves as a vehicle for reading and writing expression; DJ/MCs absorb a rhythmic mathematics through the syncopated, percussion based music mathematics.
He embodies, for the students, that you can make a living , and a life, by what you get, and what you give.