Quantum leap from Orleans to Orangi

M. M. Alam

Monday, July 02, 2012 - Karachi—Despite the fact that city’s crème-dela-crème converged at five-star-Avari Towers, this scribe was touched by the poise of one hundred brightly-attired singing & dancing boys & girls from schools (situated in the Metropolis’s most under-privileged quarters) at The Stooges (Red Bull Street Kings title-winning horn-n-drum) Brass Band’s concert. The kids came from areas like Orangi & Korangi plagued with violence resembling New Orleans, known for the marginalization of its African-American community.

In a milieu where over 60% of Pakistanis live under poverty line & 99% populace had never glimpsed the interior of a 5-star hotel, seeing these children intermingle so confidently with jazz performers from USA was nothing less than a miracle, a quantum leap. Another happening that made this musical produce of US Consulate General’s exchange program significant was that during the one-hour performance, at least two bombs exploded in Quetta & Peshawar killing numerous guiltless men, women & children. U.S. Consulate’s Public Affairs Officer Kevin Murakami, Press Attaché Amanda Cauldwell & Cultural Affairs Officer Tony Jones talking to this scribe told that those pupils were in their 2nd-year learning through English Access Program: US Consulate funds International Education & Resource Network (IEARN)’s community service project of teaching English (free of charge) to the disadvantaged pupils, using latest language teaching technology. Interestingly 29 such students from all over Pakistan had been selected on pure merit through Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program who are scheduled to go to USA on a yearlong scholarship this August. Earlier speaking to Pakistan Observer about US Consulate General sponsored English Access Program Amanda Cauldwell said that (realizing its importance in today’s world) children of most underprivileged areas of Pakistan too wanted to learn English. She was pleased to observe how initially shy pupils, just after few months, commenced speaking (debating & singing in) English. Community serving is the part and parcel of this two-year program under which thousands (over 1500 pupils in Karachi alone) are benefiting all over Pakistan. Deciphering the secret behind their marvelous self-confidence at the concert Tony Jones informed that at the US Consulate General Karachi they held an assortment of sessions for them on leadership, public speaking etc. “that at the end of the day build confidence”.

Venue Khursheed Mahal reverberated as sleek We Got that Fire, lit up the ambience followed by Wind it Up & other spectacular pieces during the incredible presentation by the second line brass band. Interactive performance of The Stooges - superstars from New Orleans - testifying to their candor for the conventional racines, manifested their ability to blend traditional New Orleans brass with contemporary urban beats. A friendship song in Urdu served as the grand finale. The band members maintained that marching brass bands served as an opportunity for New Orleans youth to excel; moreover they were inspired by the success of other bands. 26 year-old trombone player Larry Brown who has been a member of Stooges since 2011 while talking to this scribe told that the youngest member of the band was 21 while the oldest 32. He said that it was great when people from different worlds played together: “We get inspiration from a lot of people from around the globe.

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