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Spring Break at HoneyRock: African Music Immersion Week

Posted March 16, 2017 by Kathryn Jancaus '18

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aiw-honeyrockMy spring break at HoneyRock for African Music Immersion Week was a time of both refreshment and challenge. Physical and relational refreshment came from camp activities like tubing, canoeing, ice skating and taking walks with new friends. It was also refreshing to learn through doing as we constructed Xhosa musical bows and sang South African church songs in workshops led by ethnomusicologist Dr. Dave Dargie. We learned that body movement is viewed as a way of expressing sincerity in African music, and we practiced worshiping with our bodies in dance as we sang church songs. All together, a highlight of the week for me was physical refreshment and reconnecting with my body’s God-given capabilities for play, creativity, and worship. 

I decided to participate in African Music Immersion Week because I’m interested in world music, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking back, I was surprised by both the joys and challenges of the experience. Our workshops challenged me to venture outside my comfort zone and to abandon self-consciousness about dancing, leading songs, and practicing clicks in the Xhosa language. Entering into study of South African history was also very challenging: as we watched films and heard stories from our professors about the oppression of Black South Africans during apartheid, my classmates and I felt the heavy weight of injustice. Dr. Johann Buis, the leader of our trip, opened discussion on the question: Why study past injustice when it is so depressing? Along with this, we discussed a more general question: Why study the history and culture of others? 

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Our response to the first question was: we study human wrongdoing on the societal level not only to lament for past events, but so that we become more sensitive and so we will care about promoting justice. Learning about South Africa’s past helps us to care about justice in this country and the world. And, to the second question we said: cross-cultural learning can be a way of showing Christ-like love. In his love for us, Jesus took on our humanity with all its struggles, joys, and suffering. We can imitate Christ’s incarnational love by showing that we value what is deeply important to other people, like the way Dr. Dargie has shown respect for the Xhosa people by learning and preserving their traditions. 

For me, African Music Immersion Week helped to affirm the value of studying arts, culture, and history as Christians. As I remember this week of learning, I hope that it will continue to help me explore how my studies at Wheaton can reflect God’s love for the world. 

kathryn-jancaus

Kathryn Jancaus ’18 is majoring in Music History and Literature and minoring in Mandarin Chinese. Photo captions (top to bottom): The view from Kathryn's canoe during African Music Immersion Week at HoneyRock; Dr. Dave Dargie and Dr. Johann Buis talk with drummers Henry Williams, Joel Campau, and Hope Ross between songs; Kathryn enjoying the sunny weather with her custom-made bow during spring break at HoneyRock. Photos credit Savannah Norton ’19. 

To learn more about Wheaton, connect with Wheaton College Undergraduate Admissions. Set up a visit, or apply now. To learn more about HoneyRock and their gap year program, Vanguard, visit their website

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