A number of years after transferring to the US from her house in Jamaica, Tamara West discovered herself on stage singing a Korean music in entrance of a crowded viewers in Texas.
Two giant screens on both facet of the stage, broadcasting her efficiency singing and illuminating the sphere of individuals unfold out on picnic blankets to observe the present.
“Going and enjoying or singing in a language you do not converse fluently takes lots of braveness,” West stated. “It may be scary.”
West, a multicultural program advisor at UM’s Heart for International and Intercultural Research, was giving a presentation on the 2017 Korea Competition in Carrollton, Texas.
Earlier that yr, she auditioned to be the US consultant on the Changwon Ok-Pop World Competition, a singing competitors held yearly in Changwon, South Korea, with one consultant from 13 international locations all over the world. West took second place, and though she didn’t advance to the competitors in South Korea, she was invited to sing on the competition in Carrollton.
West’s curiosity in studying about completely different cultures developed at an early age. She remembers rising up in Jamaica and watching a TV present showcasing Chinese language cultural dances. As a young person, she joined her highschool choir and developed a ardour for singing earlier than transferring to Texas to acquire a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Texas at Arlington.
After graduating, West accepted a educating place at an English language institute on the campus of Texas Wesleyan College the place she taught college students from all around the world. Throughout breaks, West performed music from some pupil international locations.
She remembers telling the scholars, “It is your tradition and I would like you to be comfy. I would like you to listen to one thing you are aware of.”
Seeing her college students excited to sing of their native languages sparked West’s curiosity in studying songs as properly. Though she didn’t know greater than two phrases in lots of languages, she was excited to tackle the problem.
“Inclusivity of language competence is what I’m a robust proponent of,” West stated. “As a result of lots of instances folks do not even attempt to be taught a language as a result of they really feel they must grasp fluency, and that the aim is all the time fluency, which is not true.”
Discover West Songs in Hindi, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin Chinese language, Arabic, Portuguese and Jamaican Patwa dialect. She typically goes out to sing karaoke to carry out in entrance of an viewers.
“Typically I get just a little nervous, I will be trustworthy,” she stated. “However normally, I will recover from it… and crucial factor is to be there to share one thing with folks.”
Earlier than coming to UM, West labored on the College of Texas at Dallas the place she entered the varsity’s annual expertise competitors, Comets Bought Expertise. She carried out a touching Korean music with photos from a well-liked Korean drama sequence displayed on a display behind her. West gained first place and the college’s mascot introduced her with a big gold trophy.
“It may be dangerous whenever you’re performing a music in a overseas language that different folks do not converse since you threat alienating the viewers if they do not perceive precisely what you are saying,” West stated.
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This is without doubt one of the causes she prefers to carry out gradual tales that present emotion – folks haven’t got to know phrases to know the emotions you are making an attempt to convey via music.
“I do not need folks to suppose that I take language or tradition as a joke,” she stated. “I might in all probability make errors, however that is high quality. And I hope that goes properly with the viewers, as a result of I intend to get them to listen to a music in one other language that is not English, and it is good to listen to that too.”
West hopes her exhibits will present how music can convey folks collectively, transcending race, ethnicity and tradition.
“As a Jamaican, after which as an African, I want to present that there are folks right here who appear to be me who’re open to studying about different cultures,” she stated. “I really like being that bridge between Korean tradition and Jamaican tradition, Korean tradition and black tradition.”
West believes that listening to music in different languages can encourage folks to be taught extra about completely different cultures and discover the world round them.
“(Listening to music in a overseas language) generally is a gateway to different issues,” she stated. “Perhaps you possibly can watch a overseas film… perhaps you possibly can strive completely different meals or go to a special nation the place you do not perceive what the folks round you might be saying.
“You do not have to attend to go to Spain…or South Korea to observe your language. You may seize alternatives right here and now. That is what I might say – search for alternatives to be taught languages as a result of the language system is a special mind-set. It opens your thoughts to a special approach of seeing life.”
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