As the Malawian graduate students continue to settle into the routines on Lakeland's campus, they also make it a point to get off-campus to experience a variety of activities and events. When they break from their studies, the students do things like participate in the faith communities of local churches, meet with their host families for meals and outings, and seek out opportunities that provide professional development and cultural exchange.
Recently, Mavuto Chiwale, Margret Mandala, MaryFlorence Mzama, and Yowasi Nkhambala rode the college shuttle into town so they could attend an event called 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC). This year marked the fifth anniversary of 100TPC, which is held annually, all around the world, always on the last Saturday of September. On this day, poets, musicians, and artists come together to share a vision for making the world a more peaceful, just, and sustainable place. It’s a day for planting seeds of change through the arts. This year, groups participated in nearly 600 cities scattered across North, Central, and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
MaryFlorence Mzama and Margret Mandala share at the open mic.
The Sheboygan event was held at Deland Home Park on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. The M.Ed. students joined an audience of about 85 other people who participated in the open mic event. For those who are not familiar with the open mic concept, it’s an opportunity for anyone who attends to stand before the other members of the group and offer his or her thoughts, observations, songs, or spoken creative work. Against the crisp blue backdrop of the lake, poems and songs were shared by people of all ages, from high school students to senior citizens.
Mavuto Chiwale participated by helping read a poem that was translated by Cohort 1 student Ndamyo Mwanyongo the previous year into Chichewa, the native language of Malawi. This year, Margret Mandala and MaryFlorence Mzama shared short poems in English that they had learned when they were children in school.
Mavuto Chiwale prepares to share the reading of a poem.
On Facebook, Mavuto later wrote, "It was an educational, entertaining, soul touching, and beautiful event." And Yowasi Nkhambala said simply, "It was great!" The day devoted to 100TPC in Sheboygan was a testimony to the fact that poetry and music really can bring people together, and in so doing, create ways to plant seeds of change.
This post was prepared by Lisa Vihos on behalf of Lakeland College. The program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Lakeland College and do not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID or the United States Government.