BABA’S BLOG ARCHIVES

2017 Heritage Award Honoree

The past few months have been a blur.  December I was touring in Spain and the Canary Islands (short video clip of part of a performance there). While in Spain I participated in a Spanish Book Festival to promote ROAD and then returned to a flurry of performances for...

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MY BOOK IS FINISHED!

It has definitely been a long, arduous journey but, after 6 years of self-inflicted mental torture, constant cursing and unexplainable elation, my book Road of Ash and Dust: Awakening of a Soul in Africa is "finally" complete. I am, quite literally, jumping up and...

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Why I refused to stand for the Pledge

It was 1975 and I was in the sixth grade at Meadows Elementary on the largest military base in this nation, Fort Hood, in the State of Texas. Just like many other children during that period of adolescence, I was transitioning into my age of reason. I was beginning to...

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Another Bright Light Dims

i am truly one of the blessed of this earth to be able to travel the world and share with so many different people of different cultures. I received word recently that one of the most amazing souls I've ever met transitioned. His name was Seu Geraldo Tartaruga and he...

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My incident with a Hawk

Yesterday I was on my way back home driving from Northern California to Los Angeles. I pulled into a rest stop and went to stand out in an adjoining field. I like to break the monotony of driving long distances by stopping to take time and enjoy the beauty of nature...

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AM I A SLAVE?

I’m touring schools here in Lafayette Louisiana and having an incredible experience. Something happened yesterday that made me pause and give an issue some thought. A young girl of about 11 years old asked me, “Have you ever been a slave?” Now on the...

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Costa Rica Blog #03

I just finished my final performance here in Costa Rica and I’m supposed to be getting ready for my flight but I had to sit down and just write out what just happened really quickly. First of all, the performance was awesome, amazing and I’m...

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Costa Rica Blog #02

I’ve only been in Costa Rica for a few days but in that time I’ve performed for 10 different school audiences of varying ages. There is a response that I’m finding common here amongst the people, both adult and children. Each time I’ve finished...

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Costa Rica Blog #01

After arriving in San Jose Costa Rica on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles I was met by my tour manager and whisked away to a school for my first performance. I tried not to allow my exhaustion to show through the veneer of energetic engagement...

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BABA @ The Last Bookstore

At least once, sometimes twice a week I try to make time to sit quietly and listen to records. Usually before the needle rises on one of the last albums I’ve got my nose buried in the pages of a book. Time ceases to be of any consequence. I’ve...

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Argentina Blog #07

Yesterday I was not feeling like performing. I had that “wanna-stay-in-eat-popcorn-and-watch-movies” kind of feeling. Even though I know it is a mental test of adapting, I still keep inching closer towards the soothing sensation of apathy. Not...

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Argentina Blog #06

There are times when I feel as though I live in an alternate reality. I probably engage more people in a week than most do in a lifetime. What seems surreal to me is the reaction that so many people have to storytelling. I have lived long...

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Argentina Blog #05

Today was another day of performing at schools trying to see as much of the city as I could from the windows of my taxi. My tour manager, Sofi, is astounding. She is really on top of her game. I have not wanted, nor needed, for anything. I've...

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Argentina Blog #04

I've been experiencing a really interesting phenomenon since I've arrived in Uruguay and Argentina. I haven't spoken much about it because it is a bit embarrassing. But since I now have a portion of the answer I'll share. Each school I've...

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Argentina Blog #03

I just returned from a Tango lesson here in Buenos Aires with my wife and son. It was much more challenging than I thought it would be. My back was pouring with sweat. I love challenging myself with new things. I've learned never to get "too"...

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Argentina Blog #02

I've been here in Buenos Aires for a couple of days now. My first gathering was a group of 16 and 17 year olds. I gage how the rest of the tour will go in a country by the very first performance. It was early, really early and, as most people...

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Argentina Blog #01

Last night I we left Uruguay and arrived in Buenos Aires a little behind schedule. I was starting to really feel the physical effects of touring on both mind and body. While we were at the airport I felt myself slip into some sort of...

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Uruguay Blog #05

I haven't had a chance to talk much about the actual visits to the schools here in Uruguay. I can say that I have yet, crossing my fingers, had a single negative experience. In fact, I've had quite the opposite. I've found the students,...

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Uruguay Blog #04

Last Saturday my tour manager, Sofi, took me to the historical city of Colonia. It is one of the earliest settlements here in Uruguay. Its' history is a blend of Portuguese and Spanish Colonial conflict. Everything from the architecture to the...

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Uruguay Blog #03

Last Friday I visited Casa de la Cultura Afrouruguaya. I try to explore as much of the cultural landscape of the countries I travel to as possible. With a hectic work schedule and maintaining business and familial connections back in the U.S....

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Uruguay Blog #02

Since I've stepped off of the plane and started visiting schools here in Montevideo, I've been getting enthusiastically hugged and kissed by both old and young. I've visited about 6 schools so far and at each school, the children have erupted...

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Uruguay Blog #01

The trip getting here was long, oh so long. I spent 6 and a half hours on a plane going from Los Angeles to Panama and then, after only an hour layover in Panama, I voluntarily assaulted my body for another 7 hours on a plane from Panama to...

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Loving LoVegan in Bucharest

I’ve always avoided talking about food. I don’t enjoy explaining to the, oddly, curious what I eat, why I eat what I eat or where I get what I eat when I eat. With that being said, some might find it curious that I would choose to play “food...

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Goodbye Bucharest

Leaving Romania is a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand I can’t wait to return to the familiarity of home and, on the other hand, I’m going to miss the amazing souls I’ve crossed paths with. I have taught and been taught here in...

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Baba in Bucharest

The City of Bucharest is an amazing example of the juxtaposition of old-world communism living side by side with a rapidly advancing, almost voracious capitalism. I’m old enough to remember the 1989 Revolution, as we witnessed it in the U.S. from the comfort of our...

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24 Hours in Paris

Arriving in Paris after a 10 hour flight still felt magical. I booked my flight to Romania with a 24-hour stopover in Paris. I wanted to see a few sights, taste a little of the cuisine and flex my "oh so smooth" French Language skills. Paris is truly a beautiful city,...

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Symptoms of Hebdo

I am first and foremost, a professional storyteller and so I tend to address social themes from a very formative, if not, narrative process. I also realize that my opinions will make perfect sense to some of you and to others, I will probably sound like one of the...

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Identity in Ecuador

I consider myself more resourceful than sagacious, more pupil than professorial and definitely more the initiate than master of anything, but this past week here in Ecuador has thrown me into quite a bit of self-reflection. Plain and simple, I present myself to the...

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Do Not Bite

I was going to write an extensive blog about the many life lessons housed in the drawing and objectives of a 4 year old boy at a school I visited recently. I think the attached picture of his drawing will speak volumes. Let me know what you think. I'm really enjoying...

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Baba in Ecuador Blog I

I’ve been in the City of Quito here in Ecuador for about a week now. Without exception, all of the schools I’ve visited have been overwhelming in their hospitality and the people I’m meeting on the streets have all been warm and friendly. I’m staying in an area known...

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5 Days to Reach 50 Years

In a few days I’ll have drank from this fountain of life for 50 years. I have had friend after friend tell me how important it is that I celebrate by having a “Blow Out,” a big party. I’ve opted for a different method of celebrating, something more reflective and...

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The Pain of Children’s Hospital

For those of you who are regulars to my blog you know that periodically I visit Children’s Hospital and go bedside-to-bedside sharing music, stories and conversation with the children. I’ve been doing this for years. Initially, when I first started, I thought that it...

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My 92 Year Old Muse

She sat up front; closest to the area I was performing. The entire time she smiled, sang and punctuated every moment of our interactions with her own witty, creative quips. Her bright, youth filled, eyes betrayed the notion that 92 years is capable of dimming anything...

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My 10-Minute Classroom Standoff

 I recently experienced an absolutely agonizing ordeal with a student in a classroom. A classroom of 30 students, and I, were involved in a speaking-listening exercise. It was quite simple actually. I randomly chose students to present a fable, or summarize a fable,...

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Leaping Out Towards Myself

I’ve spent the last 30 odd years living in, around, and near the illusion that is known as Hollywood. I have more stories that I can’t tell, about people I shouldn’t know or, never even wanted to know, than I care to reflect on. Whatever you imagine about the insanity...

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20 Years in the Making of Me

Since my return from Peru some months back I’ve spent most of my time, between performing, life and the occasional respite, reflecting on the past 20 years. 2014 will mark my 20th year as a professional speaker and musician. In the blink of an eye I’ve traversed two...

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Meeting Mukashi Mukashi

In July of 2010 I was touring Poland, sharing music, stories, food and lots of laughs. I was working with a man who is like a brother to me, Michal Malinowski. As we traveled about, Michal kept raving about a Japanese art form known as Kamishibai. Apparently, he had...

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Beyond Bird Watching

I had just finished a performance for an assembly of teens at an all girls Catholic School in the La Molina District of Lima, Peru. It went over amazingly well. I always try to balance my presentations with wit, humor and just enough surreptitious instruction that the...

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Entering the School of Words

It has been a week of constant, rapid motion, daily performances and digging deep to pull from that reserve of energy fueled by passion for one’s purpose. One of the issues of being a professional speaker, musician and performer is that there is “never” a moment that...

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The Well Poisoner

Working in schools across the world is a unique experience. I find that we are more alike than not, especially when it comes to personalities. To the letter, it is almost eerie the similarities in personalites I encounter when I visit schools. The people may speak...

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Avoid the Toilet Seat

Yesterday I finished a performance at a school in Lima and hopped in a cab to get to the bus terminal. My tour manager, Yoli, and I had just enough time to eat a quick meal and hop aboard a Cruz del Sur Bus taking us from Lima to Trujillo. Little did I know that my...

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Rock Star Status in Peru

It is so funny the reception one gets when leaving the borders of your own country. Today I visited a school and was literally mobbed for autographs. Can you believe it? A lowly storytelling man with harp in hand, mobbed for autographs. I must have signed hundreds of...

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Savoring Peru a Day at a Time

Ok, the time has started to do that funny “slipping by” thing. You know when you plan on doing something, like blogging, but three days whiz by you unnoticed? So, here it goes… on Monday I met up with a Peruvian Storytelling brother that I’ve been communicating with...

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A Nod and A Hug in Peru

One of the things I do when I travel to new places is “get lost”. I do it on purpose. I know it sounds dangerous but it is really one of the best ways I’ve found to get to know a city and get to know it well. I’ll usually start with the local transit system. In...

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Just arrived in Peru

I just arrived in Lima Peru a couple of hours ago. I’m feeling the years. It’s true what they say about Father Time. I don’t make it a habit of cursing but airline seats will push even a saint to edge of madness. It seems like there is a conspiracy against anyone over...

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Bullied Boy Speaks

Last Monday was the culmination ceremony for the "Speaking-Listening" residency of the middle schoolers I've been working with in Santa Ana for the past four months. The road getting them through the barrage of speaking and listening challenges over the last few...

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Gift from a Crying Child

I visit Children's Hospital of Orange County about four times a year. Yesterday was one of those visits. Performing at the bedsides of ill children is probably the most difficult, yet rewarding work I do each year. It's heart-wrenchingly difficult because it pains me...

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Are My Students Ready for Life?

I did a little experiment in the classes I taught today. I had four classes of about 28 students per class. We’ve been working the past few weeks on speaking/listening skills, specifically as they relate to the process of interviewing and being interviewed. This is a...

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Baba’s Upcoming Performance!

As always, I want to do my best to keep my friends informed about what's happening with your favorite storyteller. I'm putting the finishing touches on the upcoming 6 week tour of Peru. I'll talk more on that the closer it gets. I do not have a single day free in...

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My Honor Defended by a Little Girl

There are times when I wish I could publish images of all of the children I work with and their names but I am cognizant of the world we live in. I am continually awed by the strength of spirit and hopefulness I see in our youth, no matter what corner of the world I...

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Clothing for Culture and for Change

The clothing I often wear resembles the attire worn by Muslims all across the world. I was dressed in gold kaftan today when I entered a convenience store to pick up some water and snacks. The man behind the counter kept staring at me as if he had a question he wanted...

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Truth be Told – Creative Catharsis

When I was a child I used to hear the elders in my life toss about the phrase, “Truth be told.” I never quite understood what it meant until I became an adult. “Truth be told” is a testimonial phrase. It is what a person will say when they want a listener, or reader,...

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Affirmations Raining Down on Me

The Pasadena Waldorf School has an incredible faire that they’ve hosted for about 27 years. It is affectionately called the “Elves’ Faire.” I’ve performed at this festival for a number of years now and, each year, I’m enjoying it more and more. The organizers of the...

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Jamaica Blog Day 6

Last night we arrived late in the evening and checked into a beautiful bed and breakfast called “Neita’s Nest." It was a soothing, very welcoming environment. The little added touches of candles in the evening and the smell of food cooking from the kitchen to a...

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Jamaica Blog Day 5

Day 5 is the final day of the Ananse Sound Splash Storytelling Conference & Festival for me. This is a bittersweet day of mixed emotions. On one hand I am excited to be returning home to the comforts and familiarity of my life. On the other hand, Jamaicans have opened...

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Jamaica Blog Day 4

Up early and off to Marcus Garvey Technical High School here in Saint Ann’s Bay Jamaica. Obviously I was excited and, once again, unable to get a complete night’s sleep. I kept thinking about one of my early mentors, Dr. Anyim Palmer, founder of the Marcus Garvey...

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Jamaica Blog Day 3

Today was a big day for me here in Jamaica. After arriving in Ocho Rios from Kingston last night I found it hard to sleep. It might not be the cool thing to say but I was experiencing a bit of anxiety over having to present my paper the next day. I felt like I was...

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Jamaica Blog Day 2

I started my day workshopping with a group of teenagers who weren’t real familiar with storytelling. It worked out really well. We ended up doing the storytelling together, the entire group, on stage. I was proud of my little group of novice tellers. There was one...

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Jamaica Blog Day 1

It is a strange feeling to start out in one part of the world in the morning and end up in another part of it by evening. When I left Los Angeles this morning there was a familiarity with the environment that I take for granted. Exiting the airport here in Kingston...

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Heading to Jamaica…

On the 19th of November I’ll be boarding a plane heading to Jamaica to attend a Storytelling Festival & Conference. I’m excited because I won’t only be performing but I’ll be presenting a paper as well. I’ll make the paper available online as soon as the conference...

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My Day with Dads

I’m just returning from a small workshop in the city of Watts. It was a gathering of children their fathers. I facilitated the group on how we, as men, can build on our relationships with our children through using storytelling as a mechanism to bond. This was one of...

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Did they find joy in Malala’s pain?

I've been working with both adults and children for more than 20 years, helping them to develop as speakers and listeners; promoting the Art of Storytelling as an instrument of instruction. Recently, I was working in a classroom with a group of 11 and 12 year olds....

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Elders in all shapes and sizes

While in Mali some years back, I roamed the countryside in search of an elder willing to share folktales and stories with me. I needed someone with wisdom and depth whose feet I could sit at and drink from their fount of knowledge and experience. I ended up in a...

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Education is Not Child Care

I am excited that the Chicago Teacher’s Strike has ended but there is a troubling issue, for me at least, that went ignored. In spite of a dramatic seven-day assault on our senses through ritualized rhetoric, and well-tailored talking points, not a single soul offered...

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Compensated in Crackers

I positioned myself on the edge of the young boy’s bed, close to his outstretched legs with tiny wiggly toes dancing in my direction as he smiled wide. His face was glowing in heightened anticipation of impending story and music I had come to share with him. He’s only...

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Dominican Republic Day 4

After yesterday’s torrent of activity, today seemed almost like a day of ease. I had a single performance in the afternoon, which freed up my morning to take a walk into the city. My main objective was to visit “El Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican...

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Dominican Republic Day 3

When I began my day this morning I entered a vortex of activity that kept me going throughout the entire day until my head hit the pillow at night. I started the morning with an interview at a radio station, Viva FM, with hosts Carmen Imbert Brugal and José Antonio...

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Dominican Republic Day 2

Today I met some really amazing teachers during a workshop I gave on the Power of Storytelling. The questions they asked were so poignant and their passion for their work was inspirational to me. I carried their enthusiasm for their students and the obvious love of...

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Dominican Republic Day 1

Anyone have any ideas how to get an extremely fragile West African harp from Los Angeles to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic? You know it is too big to carry on, too exotic to gate check, and way too precious to send down a luggage conveyor belt. What any decent...

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Yes to Violence No to Sex

I’ve tried to keep my blogging addiction in check by getting out in the air, taking walks, and dusting off my rollerblades but so many thing continue happening around me that I’ve got to talk about them. I was in a line just the other day at a video store (Yes there...

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Why aren’t Muslims burning Bibles?

Here in the United States there have been people who have openly threatened to burn Islam’s holy book, the Koran. Most of the people I’ve seen making these threats appear possessed by anger, fear and, often, an irrational hubris crying out for immediate medication or...

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A 10 year old girl died here in Long Beach

Last friday two young girls agreed to meet off-campus from their school to fight one another here in the City of Long Beach California. According to witnesses the fight only lasted about a minute after which each of the girls went home. Later that evening Joanna...

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Me at an AME Church in Pomona

I just left a church in Pomona California where I performed. I experienced such warmth and true affection that I’m  inspired to pull my car over and pen thoughts to paper. I travel the world, literally, and I’ve met with people from every station in life. I’ve spoken...

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Why is Standing in Line Important?

I know what I’m about to ask is going to sound a bit strange but recent events have me re-thinking of lot of what I had considered the norm. Here’s my question, “Why is it important to teach our children that they must be able to stand in a line?” Before you answer,...

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Covina High School Cool

I spent the day at Covina High School today. As I write this I’ve got a huge smile plastered across my face. I was invited to play my Kora and do a little singing for the school’s “Multicultural Festival.” It seems each day the students celebrate different cultures...

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