Independent Afrikan Minds (I AM): Developing Cultural Ambassadors

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Independent Afrikan Minds (I AM) is a Youth Leadership and Rites of Passage program in which become agents of positive social change in their communities through cultural education, media production, economic development, and travel-study.  The program targets urban youth of African descent to develop Cultural Ambassadors that utilize expeditionary learning, the arts and media to educate themselves and the communities they serve. The program is designed to provide urban youth with knowledge of self and pride in their ancestral heritage.  Specifically, youth are immersed in the study and application of the African Diasporan Experience through arts-integrated, project-based learning.

The year-long program consists of weekly workshops in which participants explore the African Diasporan experience through an interactive curriculum that includes articles, media, guest speakers, discussions and events.  The program hires youth during the summer to produce media programs in preparation for the culminating travel-study to Africa (Ghana and Ethiopia) during the summer in which participants experience home-stays with African families, visit important historical/cultural landmarks, participate in traditional ceremonies, interact with youth leaders, and so much more.  Dubbed the “Journey of Self-Discovery”, the I AM program guides youth on a path of activism, personal transformation, improved health, and civic engagement.

The goals of the program are:

  1. Provide youth with knowledge, skills, experiences and strategies in order to implement solutions to identified personal & community challenges.
  2. Cultivate cultural pride among youth of African descent through the exploration of African Diasporan History & Culture, contextualized within a contemporary framework.
  3. Increase the abilities of urban youth to express learned information and facilitate dialog in a compelling and comprehensive fashion.
  4. Utilize visual, digital, and performance arts to create spaces for community dialogue and cooperation.
  5. Utilize the human and material resources of the local community as a rich educational landscape.

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