International artists visit Tupelo Middle School

Zeki Maviyildiz, from left, plays the darbuka and Aaron Kaczmarek, plays the Saz, as they perform traditional Turkish folk music for students at Tupelo Middle School on Friday. The two were performing as part of the Yocona International Folk Festival and Tour.

Zeki Maviyildiz, from left, plays the darbuka and Aaron Kaczmarek, plays the Saz, as they perform traditional
Turkish folk music for students at Tupelo Middle School on Friday. The two were performing as
part of the Yocona International Folk Festival and Tour. (Adam Robison)

By Chris Kieffer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Students from Tupelo Middle School were exposed to international music, stories and dance on Friday morning.

The Yocona International Folk Festival and Tour visited the school and staged performances of folk songs from Great Britain, stories and dance of early Americans and music from India and Turkey. The artists also visited classrooms in the afternoon and spoke to students more about their different cultures.

“We are about the educating of north Mississippi children and the preservation of traditional cultures,” said Mary Sloan, co-founder of the nonprofit Yocona International Folk Festival.
“…The more we learn about our shared humanity with people of other very different cultures, we understand that all Mississippians are of a strong, shared culture with no need for artificial divisions.”

This is the organization’s seventh year to tour the region with folk artists from around the world. More than 20 countries have been represented in its history.

Students also have been able to see a PowerPoint presentation about the countries represented. That presentation was prepared by the folk festival and sent to the school in advance.

“I learned more about other countries, besides the ones we hear about every day,” said eighth-grader Kerry McKenzie.

The presentation also fit with Tupelo Middle School’s arts integration program.

“Art is one of the great bridges that connects all of humanity and all of these nations,” said Rebecca Jernigan, education coordinator for YIFF.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com