On Monday, August 14th, a selected group of students participated in a lecture conducted by the distinguished writer and professor Mayra Santos Febres. The purpose of the activity was to discuss the African influence in Palés Matos poem and Rafael Tufiño painting Majestad Negra. Students had the chance to learn about intriguing subjects such as African mythology, and the religious syncretism developed in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This historical and anthropological background will serve as a reference of inspiration to create a large pastel drawing of their version of Majestad Negra. The experience of translating and transferring this knowledge into images will motivate and help the students understand more about Puerto Rico’s African heritage.
The IB program states that “Students learn best when their learning experiences have context and are connected to their lives and their experience of the world that they have experienced.” With this in mind, teacher Arlene Ruiz Isenberg wants to use art as a cultural link to Puerto Rico’s Afro-descendant heritage. “Our students know very little of Puerto Rico’s Afro-descendants and the many contributions they have done to our society and history.”
Most of what is celebrated from our African heritage is the music and the food, but their contribution to our history and culture is so much more. We have great Afro-descendant historians, politicians, doctors, artists, composers, intellectuals, teachers, writers, and so on. The goal of this inter-curricular project is to emphasize on these figures and their legacy. Arlene states that “the purpose of this project to show the other side of their story using the arts as the educational tool to transmit this knowledge interconnecting with different academic subjects.”
During this semester students will gain a deeper understanding of our African heritage. By experimenting with different mediums and exploring through different disciplines they will be immersed in a complete experience of culture and history. It is hoped that through this holistic approach, the student will be more motivate and engaged to learn about their culture.