Ghanaian Ewe Agbadza on a drumset

Graduate ethnomusicology student Christiana Usenza, A13, took the result of her studies to YouTube when she created this video demonstrating how she has adapted Ewe Agbadza rhythms to the drumset. Ewe drumming is the style of drumming used by the Ewe people of West Africa, specifically Ghana and Togo. Agbadza refers to the traditional rhythm. In this video, Usenza breaks down two Ewe Agbadza pieces into a series of rhythms and carefully explains how she has translated each rhythm on to a part of the drumset. You can watch the unique musical result below.

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Alum Blogs from Egypt

Yamila Irizarry-Gerould, A11, is recording her time in Cairo, Egypt with her blog, Traveler in an Antique Land. She received a fellowship from the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) to continue her Arabic studies for the next year in Cairo. She says,

As my Arabic improves, Egypt and the Middle East undergo tumultuous changes. This blog is my attempt to chronicle and share the country’s transformations, as well as my own.

She’s written about the recent Egyptian election, offering an inside view on the country during this pivotal time. Check out Traveler in an Antique Land for updates on Yamilia’s time in Cairo.


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Tufts Hillel in Morocco

Early in June, a group of students from Tufts Hillel packed their bags and headed to Morocco. As part of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the group planned to volunteer and serve while learning about the challenges facing Jewish communities abroad.

Through the JDC: In Service blog, the group has been blogging about their adventures. They’ve recounted days working with students at a local school, dancing with seniors at a home for the elderly, and helping to restore a Jewish cemetery.

While visiting the school, one of the Tufts bloggers writes:

It was especially meaningful to spend time in the computer class because before the trip we fundraised to buy computer operating systems for the school. We sold popcorn to Tufts students and their parents and raised a total of $650. We presented the check to the director of the school, who was very appreciative to both our group and the JDC for the support.

The group has also managed to fit in some site-seeing, complete with a trip to the Jardin Majorelles garden and touring the only Jewish Museum in the Arab world. See some pictures from their travels below and keep up with the Tufts Hillel team in Morocco here.

Visiting a local school


Restoring a Jewish cemetery


Group shot in Marrakech


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Gamelan Ensemble at Tufts

The Tufts Gamelan Ensemble performed at the Northeast Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (NECSEM) Conference held at the university in April. Gamelan is a traditional Indonesian musical ensemble featuring gongs, chimes, and xylophones. The Tufts Gamelan Ensemble and the Boston Village Gamelan performed at the end of the conference under the direction of Barry Drummond.

Check out this video of their performance:

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Studying Abroad in India

Tufts Alumni created a video that offers an inside look at a student studying abroad in New Delhi, India. Maxine Builder, A13, shares photos and videos of her experiences and talks about getting to know a new city and seeing public health initiatives first hand.

The video is part of the “Come Back. Give Back” challenge. Classes 2002 to 2011 have the chance to create a $10,000 scholarship in their class’ name if 50 members of the class make a gift of any size to Tufts.

Check out Maxine’s story:

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Graduate Student Research Abroad

Tufts’ Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) blog is a wealth of information and advice for students currently enrolled in graduate school. Their most recent pearls of wisdom discuss the topic of going abroad for research. The blog post goes into detail about staying focused on your project, absorbing culture, and reaching out to colleagues and friends who have visited the area before. The post highlights short quotes from other students and professors who have experience with abroad research, such as student Philip Mallon’s, E17, who stressed the importance of time:

For about a week after I arrived, I traveled around the area, settled my housing, and got to know the transit system. Taking the time to become comfortable with the area made a big difference.

You can check out their recent post here.

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Finding Parkour in Cairo

Tufts alumnus Ben Gittleson, A11,  has found something neat in Cairo. In the Egyptian capital, where political change has made life unpredictable, Parkour has gained popularity.

Ben, former Editor in Chief of the Tufts Daily, documented this discovery in a video and article that was recently featured on ESPN’s Page 2 website.

Cairo might seem like an unlikely place for parkour to take root. The free-spirited sport with French roots — in which athletes navigate urban environments with acrobatic techniques — does not necessarily mesh with Egyptian society’s conservative norms.

But it does provide an outlet for young Cairenes to get out their energy amid the pressures of life in the Egyptian capital. Endless traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a dearth of public parks makes exercising difficult, and parkour is these youths’ answer to the constant stress.

Check out Ben’s video and the daring young Egyptians’ moves:

For more of Ben Gittleson’s journalistic work from Cairo, check out his website or blog.


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Ammar Khaku, E12, wanted to find a way to visually represent where his classmates would be after graduation. When he couldn’t find a tool that did that well, he decided to build He says, “The concept started off as a simple map with markers, but I added more features before it launched.”

He hopes that the site will be a resource for members of the class of 2012 to find other people in their area, and will create an interesting accumulation of statistics about the class. In the future, he plans to add optional information about what company people are working for or what they’re doing in the area, as well as restricting access to Tufts students and alumni. If the site takes off, he has even more plans including possible LinkedIn integration. He says, “I’m also taking feature requests, so let me know if there’s something you think would be cool!”

As for Ammar, his pin on the map is placed in Redwood City, California, where he’ll be working at Evernote next year.

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Tufts School of Medicine Multicultural Show

Last month, the Tufts School of Medicine posted videos on YouTube of their annual Multicultural Performing Arts Show (MPAG), hosted by the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. The show consists of students and professors putting on performances for the rest of the student body in an effort to raise funds for college diversity scholarships for high school seniors in the Boston area. Here’s one performance from this year’s show, but make sure to visit their YouTube page for more videos.

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Hoping for a BridgeAbroad to Chile

Searching for a job after graduation, even just for the summer can be stressful.  Searching for a job abroad? That’s even more challenging.

Emily German (A12) is up to the challenge. Emily is vying for a competitive scholarship to help her get the training she needs to teach English in Chile! The scholarship competition is judged on a written submission as well as “Likes” on Facebook.

Let’s face it, though: searching for jobs abroad is a daunting task, and teaching certification courses carry pretty hefty price tags for a recent college graduate. I am determined to follow through on my dream to live and work in Latin America, however, and winning this scholarship would give me the opportunity to obtain top-quality TEFL certification and acquire the skills I need to become a professional English teacher.”

“I believe that education breaks down all barriers: it sparks inquisitiveness and fosters understanding about other people and cultures, which in turn engenders greater communication and cooperation, from the local to the international community.

So far, Emily’s submission has 269 likes. Help a Jumbo follow her dreams – vote for Emily and share on Facebook and Twitter! Voting ends on 4/15/12.

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