Anna Harris plans to hire a professional translator who will help convert Ethiopian children songs in Oromo and Tigrinya into a phonetic pronunciation and an accompanying English translation.
By Debbie Truong (The Washington Post) |
SILVER SPRING, Md.―Fifteen first-graders encircled one of their classmates on a colorful rug in a Maryland classroom, trilling a children’s song in a language unfamiliar to most of them.
Ro-za ro-zeenuh, ro-za shuko-ree-na
Ay-e-soos Kuh-ri-stos a-luh dee-nuh dee-nuh poof!
[ሮዛ ሮዚና፥ ሮዛ ሮዚና
ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ አለሁ ደ’ና ደ’ና ፑፍ]
They sang along as they played an Ethiopian children’s game that requires a student in the center to twirl with eyes closed and point to another classmate at the end, until each youngster has a chance in the middle. The students at Oakland Terrace Elementary in Silver Spring sang in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, and they were learning from a curriculum designed specially for them by their music teacher, Anna Harris.
The song, “Roza, Rozeenuh,” belongs to a collection of 13 children’s songs Harris compiled. To translate them, she enlisted help from Ethiopian families, community groups and a Howard University student. She wanted the music she taught to reflect the countries and cultures her students identify with.
“It’s so important for the students to see themselves in their everyday life, and so much of their everyday life, at this age, is what’s happening in school,” Harris said. “But a lot of what we do in school is very whitewashed. . . . There isn’t any sort of a focus on the identities of the students themselves.”
Her project is poised to grow — Harris won a $4,000 grant from the Give A Note Foundation, which strives to expand music opportunities for students.
The Silver Spring teacher plans to hire a professional translator who will help convert songs in Oromo and Tigrinya, two other languages spoken in Ethiopia, into a phonetic pronunciation and an accompanying English translation.
Harris, who views music as a unifier and vessel to strengthen communities, began the project two years ago when she taught at another elementary school in Takoma Park, Md. She discovered music from places such as Guatemala and Puerto Rico but “hit a wall” as she scoured for pieces from Ethiopia.
Continue reading this story at The Washington Post
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