Workshop Background:

We live in a global, complex and interconnected world. Studying global issues both in the classroom, and internationally, provides students with a sophisticated perspective on the world in which they live, study, and work.

The Global Studies Workshop (GWS) aims to increase CUNY Prep students’ enthusiasm about the very exciting possibilities for international study and lifelong learning that exist when one commits to college success and completion.

The workshops are grounded in the idea that studying global issues and identifying study abroad programs of interest will instill a strong desire to stay in school and “cross the finish line” to graduation.  Students are often motivated for college success and completion solely for the economic opportunity a diploma provides.  An exciting international study experience that hinges on a student’s success in college will bolster student commitment to college success and completion, while expanding the student’s worldview.

Students who are successfully meeting College Transition Academy/Phase II Milestones, as well as CUNY Prep Alumni who are successfully engaged in college and meeting Phase III Milestones are eligible for the Global Studies Workshops.

Today was GSW orientation!

This is a very exciting launch of new workshop series. There was a great turn-out and the students were all very intrigued by the possibilities that exist with international travel, and of course, the potential to join the Bronx Berlin Connection. Students from CTA and first-year college students showed up–the cross-pollination of CP generations was so exciting!

We spent the afternoon getting to know each other through introductions, games and stories about our own travel experiences throughout the city, country and globe.

Ms. Wilson introduced GSW’s objectives and the vast array of CUNY Abroad programs–there are over 100! Each student identified their abroad program of choice. Students had to identify their study location on the map and attached a string from that point to a notecard on the wall that described where and why they want to travel. The desired locations ranged from DR to India to Italy!

Each student created a blog of their own. In this blog, students will be documenting their experiences, perspectives and creative work while participating in GSW.

Ms. Wilson then introduced the Bronx Berlin Connection Exchange program and reviewed last year’s success. Students were very excuted and loved the video “Trading Bars”–produced by Nicole Cohen–that blended beats, voices, and backdrops of the youth from the Bronx and Germany, so brillianty.

We are looking forward to a fantastic seven weeks together!

Today’s workshop began with a true New York “coffee talk.”  There were various copies of newspapers laid out, coffee brewing and cookies.  The students read the paper while their peers rolled in. After all were present, we broke into discussions about what was going on in the world, and why.  The students provided great insights.

Today’s central theme was “honing a global perspective”  and asked questions like, “How can you study the history, culture and politics of a place that is vastly different from your experience?; or, What skills and knowledge might you need? The students brought up questions about how to study ‘the other’ and why they are interested in learning more about certain places and people.

In following the theme of perspectives, the students participated in an activity that highlighted how perspective dictates experience.  This activity has approximately 40 ‘slides’ or images on separate sheets of paper which start from the macroscopic and, with each slide, the perspective focuses inward. Without showing each other the image, students must line up their images from largest to smallest.  The students did an excellent job of communicating, listening and shifting perspectives to understand varying vantage points.

The final portion of the day, the students continued to build their blogs.

GSW “coffee talk” set the stage for today’s workshop.  Students read the paper, ate breakfast and discussed their lives and ideas. The Friday workshops are consistently being graced with 12-15 CTA and college students – an amazing group of young people, who are voluntarily coming to school on a Friday!!

An introductory study of German culture and language was at the top of today’s agenda.  Using CP’s cool, new iPads, students research the artistic aspects of Germany, and, particularly the language. We collectively watched clips of German films and the students each  identified phrases, words or ‘sayings’ that would allow them to communicate in German.  There was a ‘tag wall’ where they were asked to write up the phrases they chose and share them with the class.  It was a great exercise!

The focus then shifted from new languages, to the students words and voices.  Specifically, students were asked to think, write and articulate “What I See”.  Their words were captured in their blogs and shared in what eventually turned into an amazing cypher. Especially, with Mr Foreman’s guidance and energy, students were able to step up and share their words and rhymes.

It was awesome! And, we discovered that there is some serious talent in the room.

Mr. Foreman and Ms. Wilson waited on a park bench one cold, gray, windy Friday morning in Queens…..they jumped with each cacophonous clank as the 7 train passed overhead.  They feared they may face this field trip alone. But, then the clouds broke, the sun shone through and…..the CUNY Prep students arrived!!

An amazing mix of first semester Hostos, second semester Hostos and CTA students – all of whom are navigating school exceptionally well – showed up in Long Island City, Queens for the first Global Studies field trip adventure.

First, the group met Meres – Director of Five Pointz Organization – in front of the ‘Space Womb’ gallery and proceeded around the corner of a non-descript building only to be confronted with a massive palette of international graffiti art.  Meres toured CUNY Prep from one corner of the block to the other as he described the pieces covering the 6 story high/1 block long building from the hand of artists from Japan, Australia, Holland, Berlin and more!! The students were captivated by the variety of styles, colors and complexities.

We passed through a parking lot, climbed a fence and could see Biggie’s face looming on the horizon the building overhead, while around the corner, the most impressive collection of graffiti art pieces amazed us all.  The interior parking lot.court yard of the Five Pointz building contains “tags” and murals from hundreds of artists, most of whom are internationally acclaimed for their talents. The students were particularly engaged with the ‘interactive’ piece which spanned a 30 foot long wall and extended down onto the pavement.  From a particular angle, as the students stood “in” the piece, they appeared to be standing on the edge of vast canyons. You’ve got to go check it out to understand….

After Five Pointz, we ventured around the corner, to a less “urban” and more contemporary/minimalist artistic landscape: MoMa p.s. One. We were the first to arrive, so basically had the entire 3-story, converted school building to ourselves.  The pieces were really spread out throughout the building, so we spread out and each student was asked to identify their favorite and discuss it back in the cafe.

The two most impressive installations were 1.) a 30-foot long pile of ashes, on the floor, in the center of the room that was actually ashes from the Twin Towers, and 2.) an enormous room with floor to ceiling windows in which a circle of about 40, seven-foot high speakers were arranged.  Each speaker emitted either the voice or instrument from a gregorian church choir. While some museum-goers sat quietly and pensively on the benches in the middle of the room, CUNY Prep was inspired to leap, pirouette and tango across the room.

As always, CUNY Prep does it differently.

GSW had an amazing and powerful day at   

  • Traveled onto the Fordham campus together – what a beautiful place!
  • Met with Dr Mark Naison in the African History Project Seminar Room and learned about his work, his involvement in the Bronx Berlin Connection and heard the story about how he landed on the Dave ChappelleShow! Dr Naison kindly provided delicious pastries and pizza.
  • We then met with MC Farbeon (Fabian Farbeon Saucedo) of the Hip Hop Re:Education project for introductions to his work and experiences as well more details about the Hip Hop Re:Ed program
  • Then we headed down to the second floor to attend Dr N’s “History from Rock n Roll to Hip Hop” class where Farbeon shared his teaching, knowledge and talents with the Fordham students and CP was in the house!
  • The last few hours of the day were spent back in the seminar room where GSW’s first official Writing Workshop took place.  Everyone was sort of timid at first, but after hearing work from other students, playing some warm up games and exploring beats and time signatures, the GSW students shared their skills and talents and learned some key techniques of making music.

It was a truly incredible day! GSW students revealed some serious skills: writers, rappers, poets, artists, beat-boxers, dancers, activists, leaders…..

GET READY: The CUNY Prep Album is in the works……release date TBD!

Today was an incredibly sunny and crisp day. Most of the group met on Chrystie and Delancey–on time and ready to rock. Meanwhile, the other half experienced the adventure of getting somewhat lost and navigating their way thorugh Lower Manhattan.

Farbeon met us at the door of Dixon Place and escorted us into the theater’s very cool upstairs cafe. where open mics, stand up and small-scale performances happen on a daily basis. The students admired the mis-matched chairs, the wall plasteres with black and white photos of past performers adn the seriously out-of-tune piano! Ms. Wilson’s attempt at playing “Fur Elise” sounded like the slow death of a large animal.

Once all students found their way to Dixon Place’s door, Farbeon gave us a breakdown of the day and expected outcomes, including completed songs and scratch recordings. The program started in the main theater which was really beautiful and high-tech. The main floor and backdrop wall were gleaming white which inevitable became the backdrop for students to snap photos of each other. We were rounded up for what turned out to be a really fun and enlivening set of theather games that encouraged communication, stage presence and leadership. The students were definitely warmed up and ready to get down to business after that!

In the small recording room, Farbeon did a “demo” of how scratch recording work. He talked us through his writing process, his vision and intention for his piece and then launched into a scratch recording. With the room in complete silence, Farbeon recorded layers of lyrics, sound effects, echoes, refrains, intros and outros all against a really interesting beat. It was amazing to watch, the students were so focused! Then, it was the student’s turn!

With some deliberation, they were all split into final groupings for writing and recording, and disperesed throughout Dixon Place. Some in the cafe, some in the stairwell, some in the lighting loft of the theater, and some just pacing around the entire space with headphones. Each individual or group had selected a beat and they were working on refining the lyrics and creating a flow. This “work-shopping” lasted for over 2 hours with Farbeon’s extremely supportive coaching and guidance, along with Mr. Foreman and Ms. Wilson’s feedback.

Meanwhile, in a back corner of the recording studio, CUNY Prep’s very own, Rondell Charles, was serving as a recording tech support. Rondell–who was hired for the day by Hip Hop Re:Education Project and is a Digital Media major at Hostos–helped Farbeon get students into the studio to record and basically made the recordings happen! It was amazing to witness the “generations” of CP crossing paths and working together.

Almost all the students had an opportunity to complete scratch recordings. At the end of the day, Farbeon facilitated a de-brief of the whole experience, a listening party, and a preview of the next week. The students who did record were beaming when they heard their own voices. It was clear that they were so excited and proud of their accomplishments.

Farbeon bid us farewell with a clear message for the students: practice, practice, practice!

Next Friday, recordings will be final and official!

Today was the last day of GSW in 2011, and it was a great one!!

We met on an hip, industrial block of Bushwick Brooklyn where there are as many artists toting laptops as there are trucks toting products. We found the source of Boars Head deli meats! The studio was behind a non-descript, tagged up door, next to a very ‘Euro’ cafe called Cafe ….

All 12 students managed to arrive within a 30 minute window of our original meeting time which is a huge improvement from day 1 of GSW. Hooray for timeliness! We waited for Farbeon and Yako, the sound engineer, who promptly led us up the two flights to what at first appeared to be an old factory space, and then we realized it was actually the home for 4 guys, a gallery space and a recording studio.  We spread out in the enormous gallery space and the students got right to work writing, practicing, collaborating and editing.

For the next 6 hours, each student had their chance in the studio at least once. Some found it very natural and freeing behind the Mic and others – who are regularly very outgoing – became shy and self conscious. Some had experience in the studio, while others were taking their first shot at it. With the knowledgeable and patient coaching from both Farbeon and Yako, each student eventually produced verses, outros, intros, doubles and refrains. It was absolutely amazing to watch their experience behind the Mic. It’s clearly a transformative process to formulate one’s thoughts, feelings and perspectives into words and then record those words to a beat.  The students were thrilled.

And, they were extremely patient. And supportive of each other. And, so positive about the entire experience. After sandwiches, we took a break on the roof to catch some air and sunshine and the students of course saw it as an opportunity for a photo shoot. Waves of rooftops layered their photo shoot backdrop, with the peaks of Manhattan’s tallest buildings punctuating the horizon. An interesting New York landscape for a very interesting group of young people.

GSW will continue and expand in January 2012 as we invite more CTA and CSN students to join the workshops.

Also, the Bronx Berlin Connection Exchange Program will officially begin with a select group of Fall 2011 GSW students participating.

More details to follow in the new year.  Happy Holidays!