Japanese-Bronx Poetry Exchange: Connecting Young Poets Across The Globe

Bronx student recites poetry in real-time via satellite to students in Japan. Image Credit: DreamYard

From DreamYard:

Japanese-Bronx Poetry Exchange: Connecting Young Poets Across The Globe

On February 23, 2014, two classrooms on opposite sides of the globe were connected for an exciting first step into an on-going international poetry exchange project. The Japanese-Bronx Poetry Exchange is the first program of its kind, bridging the cultural divide between students in the Bronx and Japan through the use of poetry and video conferencing.

As DreamYard students and their families arrived around dinnertime and rehearsed their poems at our Art Center in the Bronx, fifteen students at Joshi Seigakuin Junior and Senior High School assembled in an auditorium in Tokyo after their first morning class. Using a teleconferenced video connection, the two groups were introduced to each other in real time at 7pm EST; students clapped and waved, eager to see where the night (or morning, in Tokyo) would take them.

Led by long time DreamYard supporter, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, students in the Bronx and Tokyo took turns reciting poetry and sharing their stories with one another. The DreamYard students, most of whom had recently placed in a borough-wide poetry slam competition, performed award-winning slam poems while the  students in Tokyo recited traditional Japanese poems. Afterward, participants were given a chance to ask each other questions about why they chose to read or write certain things, what inspires them, and of course, what it’s like to be a teenager in the Bronx or Japan!   

This dialogue was an important first step towards creating a new poetry exchange program here at DreamYard. It was moving to see young people expound upon their shared experiences transcending culture or place; feeling alone, feeling loved, feeling loss, fitting in. Prior to the exchange, Ambassador Kennedy shared why she felt this night was so significant: “Poetry is so unique. It gives us a chance to put our thoughts and emotions into words and share them across time and space. Its more important than ever now that the whole world can communicate instantly.”
Why Poetry: A Brief Background on DreamYard’s Poetry Project
Since 1998, DreamYard, in partnership with BronxWrites, has impacted more than 20,000 students in 75 schools both within and outside of the New York City school system. Our poetry programming combines literacy with performance instruction serving as a catalyst for creativity, learning motivation, and offering a pathway to academic success.
Through these programs, our students can access opportunities that will prepare them for higher education and a meaningful career.  We believe that all youth, regardless of their background, deserve the opportunity to become engaged citizens, life-long learners and the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

– See more at: http://dreamyard.com/japanese-bronx-poetry-exchange-connecting-young-poets-across-the-world/#sthash.6sNHG402.dpuf

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.