2016 was a trying year for many of us. For Rap Force Academy, it was also a year of growth, development, and hope. Here are the top 6 highlights from RFA in 2016:
#1: Dr. Charles Drew Academy, San Francisco
The first highlight comes from teaching an after school program at Dr. Charles Drew Academy in the Bayview-Hunters Point District of San Francisco, a community that was traumatized last year by the police shooting death of one of its community members, Mario Woods, a few blocks away. 3rd - 5th graders were able to use music to find a source of positive expression in their lives while addressing issues that were important to them, beautifully captured in this SF State mini-documentary:
#2: Marin Juvenile Hall (Loma Alta High School)
My favorite population to introduce Hip Hop culture and its history are incarcerated youth because often times they are the people that society has either forgotten or given up on… much like the youth responsible for the creation of Hip Hop culture. Drawing these connections to their own experience and sharing the skills of rap is a healing process for many who have come to feel alienated under the criminal justice system. Their appreciation is palpable.
#3: Draper University, San Mateo, CA
An international entrepreneurial school in San Mateo, CA hired Rap Force Academy for a 1-hour public speaking workshop and the results were extraordinary, with young adults from around the world participating in their very first freestyle cypher and discovering a new dimension of their own language(s) through music. Watch the entire workshop here:
#4: Charleston, South Carolina
RFA was flown across the country in September to lead an ice-breaking workshop for high school students in Charleston, SC, another community dealing with the post-traumatic stress of the police shooting death of Walter Scott in April of 2015, and the mass murder shooting at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church just a few months later. Students from two different high school communities were tackling a local problem and RFA was hired to help them create tighter bonds with each other through our Freestyling 101 Workshop.
#5: Enseñarte, Bolivia
2016 was the year that RFA officially went international, and our first workshop in Cochabamba at a performing arts center for youth called Fundación Enseñarte Bolivia was our inaugurating host. This was the first all-spanish-speaking workshop for RFA and posed an interesting challenge, but the results were equally amazing, proving that music is truly a universal language that brings people of all ages and cultures together.
#6: Geneva, Switzerland
The final highlight of the year were four days of Hip Hop workshops at the Ecole Internationale de Genève Campus de La Châtaigneraie in Geneva, Switzerland. Middle school students were able to get their rhythm and rhyme on and perform freestyle raps for their classmates.