Monique Mizrahi | INS Castell d’Estela (Amer) | May 22, 2019

It was an empowering day at INS Castell d’Estela, a high school in Amer, about 45 minutes from Olot. My fellow Faber resident, Kenyan poet and lecturer Christopher Okemwa and I went together. The students were so engaged our stay lasted unexpectedly long! The experience was a multi-cultural adventure, a splash into the power of creative works to open dialogues, four hours of sharing songs and storytelling with two classes of students of different ages. Here I’ll share my part of the talk.

My talk began with a discussion about the role of music in society, then led to the topic of artivism – how music can act as a medium to express one’s opinion/dissent, to provide visibility for marginalized communities, and to raise awareness around important issues. I projected my song lyrics and performed them on charango, including songs on climate change, genocide, and LGBTQ+ realities. During “TMBLGBT” both students and teachers sang along and snapped their fingers to the beat.

They were quite curious about the 10-string charango I play (a traditional Andean instrument) as well as issues regarding LGBTQ+ community. The latter led to a post-talk impromptu sharing circle with a handful of students about being out and proud, gender identities, “they/them” pronouns and how to be happily nonheteronormative in a small town. They mentioned sometimes experiencing homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia and I suggested they hold a sharing circle regularly, like the one we did today.

The students seemed to genuinely appreciate the approach to activism via music and art. I would love to imagine that it inspired some students to go out and create artivism of their own.