Courtesy of Sarah Van Borek - Camp participants perform at the Errington farmer's market during Hi Neighbour Day.

World music camp in Errington brings cultures together

Annual camp enjoys a successful year of inter-cultural exchange

The 10th Errington World Music Youth Camp has wrapped up for another year, but children and their instructors are still basking in the glow of its success.

This year’s camp focused on Latin American and African music. Sarah Van Borek and Mapumba Cilombo are two of the instructors who travelled from South Africa to teach songs from across the African continent.

“It is always a joy to return to the Errington community and to share this powerful and uplifting experience with the youth and their families and friends,” said Van Borek.

They taught songs from the Baluba culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Swahili song from Tanzania and a Xhosa song from South Africa.

READ MORE: World of music to resonate at Errington Hall

The songs involved singing, percussion, marimba and movement. Over the course of a week, children and teens at the camp learned four songs and one or more dances.

“It was inspiring to see not only how well youth learned and performed the music and dances from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, but especially to see how well they listened to each other and worked together,” said Van Borek.

Charlotte Jennings is 15, and she’s been attending the world music camps in Errington for the past six years.

“I’ve really enjoyed coming back every year. It’s always such a positive experience. Even though I come back every year I still feel like I’m learning so much every time,” said Charlotte.

She says she really enjoyed working with Cilombo.

Cilombo is a performing artist originally from the Congo, now based in South Africa.

“It was amazing to have so much culture brought to us in the camp through the music that he taught us. He had such an infectious, joyful energy that we all really really enjoyed having him as an instructor this year,” said Charlotte.

Cilombo brought along his son, Lupemba, who participated in the classes as well.

Charlotte has spent time travelling to Cuba in addition to her studies with the world music camp, and greatly enjoys learning about music from around the world.

“I think it’s definitely very important to learn about music from other cultures, because music has so much history, and it tells so many stories. I feel like it’s something everyone can relate to, and kind of enjoy in different ways,” said Charlotte.

Students performed their pieces during Errington’s Hi Neighbour Day, at the farmer’s market and the War Memorial Hall.

READ MORE: Hi Neighbour Day celebrates 50th year in Errington

Van Borek says the benefits of a cultural exchange are enormous.

“A first-hand experience with another culture that is positive and that fosters respect and appreciation, especially in young people, has the potential to establish a solid foundation of cross-cultural cooperation and understanding. These can become essential life skills for these youth and what they bring to the world,” said Van Borek.

She cites her own exposure to South African marimba music as a teenager, which helped foster her desire to work in international social and environmental justice between the two continents.

The program will run again in the summer of 2020. Anyone interested in participating can contact organizer Valerie Dare at vgdare@shaw.ca.

As for Charlotte, she’s looking forward to her seventh year with the program.

“I always enjoy it more and more every year, which is hard to believe, but I do. Yes, I’ll definitely be returning,” said Charlotte.

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