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Keep the Dream Alive II

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By: Brian Forrest

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            The second annual Keep the Dream Alive concert graced the Fred P. Meagher Theatre on January 22, 2013.  It was a night of inspiration and togetherness for a diverse Neumann University community.  The theme of the evening was, “I Have a Story, Will You Listen?”  The concept behind the concert was to help break down stereotypes and misunderstandings against those who migrate, most especially from Latin American countries.  A variety of unique performances were given by different clubs and organizations around campus to recognize how far this nation has come  in terms of tolerance and equality; as well as to remind all in attendance how much good there still is to be done.   While there was no cost for admission, guests were encouraged to make a donation to Dawn’s Place, a women’s charity in Philadelphia, PA that assists women who were victims of human trafficking.

            The event began with a brief monologue and introduction from Dr. Joseph Glass, the night’s master of ceremonies.  Dr. Glass did an excellent job helping the show run smoothly for its duration as well as adding some comic relief when he thought it necessary. 

The first scheduled event was a reflective meditation video created by one of  Neumann’s campus ministers, Michael Martin Jr.  Michael  put together a touching slideshow presentation that displayed examples of the struggles that some immigrants face coming to this nation while also showing influential people who immigrated to the United States including Mila Kunis, Albert Einstein, and Frank Sinatra.  The slide show was nicely complimented by the song Who Will Speak by composer Marty Haugen, and the reflection very effectively evoked emotion from the audience and set the stage for the coming events of the evening.

            The Sisters of St. Francis Choir commandeered the stage next. Directed by Sr. Andrea Likovich, osf, they gained the audience’s complete and undivided attention by their wonderful renditions of The Praises of God composed by, their own, Sr. Likovich and Listen! God is Calling! by  A . Lovelac.

Sr. Ann Forrest, osf then took to the podium to raise awareness for Dawn’s Place, a women’s charity to which all proceeds from the concert were to be donated.  Dawn’s Place is a halfway house for women who have been through the world of sex trafficking and are looking for a way to get their lives back.  She spoke of the horrors some went through, the tragic story of the girl for whom Dawn’s Place was named, and informed everyone on what else they could do to help these women.  She made everyone in the crowd want to help these women, and moved some to make donations after the show as well.

Two members of the Neumann University Praise Dancers would take the stage for the first of two times the Praise Dancers would perform. They interpreted the song Afterwhile by Y. Adams through dance in order to express the song’s meaning to the viewing audience and explain what keeping the dream alive meant to them.

            Following the praise dance performance, Maria Sotomayor made her way to the podium and discussed The Children’s Journey display.  The Children’s display was and art exhibit that featured art made by kids who had to go through the difficult trials of immigrating to this country.  Maria shared her story of immigration and how she was separated from her parents.  Her story and the pain in her voice as she courageously told it was touching for everyone in the audience and was a true expression of how much this night mean to her.

            Neumann University’s Black Student Union, accompanied by Maria Sotomayor and Alicia Dominguez, read excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.  They passionately shared each of their dreams for this country’s future, and implored the audience to make this nation a better place for all races, cultures, and creeds.

            The Boogie Knights were set to take the stage next.  After a brief monologue was read explaining why they chose the song Breathe by Sia, they took the stage.  The performance was executed beautifully, but the tone and pace of the song and dance were uncharacteristic of the Boogie Knights.   Overall the dance perfectly fit the mood, and was a pleasure to watch. The Boogie Knights never disappoint, and this night was no exception.

            A collaborative effort in many aspects was used to create the Contemporary Music Ministry.  A six person ensemble comprised of student leaders from Campus Ministry, including campus minister Melissa Hickey, and members of Neumann media performed Go Make a Difference by S. Angrisano. This ensemble regularly provides music for various liturgies that occur on campus, including the Baccalaureate Mass for graduation.  Their song sent an upbeat and inspirational message through the theater, and really brought up the mood of the entire audience.

            There was a lesson to be learned in advocacy and awareness when Sr. Marie Lucy took to the podium.  She made us aware of the deportation problem as well as her efforts to advocate for citizenship programs that help immigrants become American citizens instead of the harsh practice of deportation.  She then asked all who felt it necessary to change the current policy to pull out their cell phones, dial their representatives, and advocate for the law to be changed. 

            The Sr. Bernadette McInnis Poetry Club came well prepared to wow the crowd, as they recited original poems that were geared toward expressing the hardships people in our own country go through every day.  The poets showed such passion in their poems that the overall performance was truly awe inspiring.  The performance received a huge emotional response from everyone watching. 

            Next to take the stage was the entire  Neumann Praise Dance team.  They gave an artistic and elegant performance to The Blood Song by K.Franklin.  The Praise Dancers put each element of the song to interpretive dance and employed expert choreography to paint the picture they wanted to project of the audience.

            Student Government Association President, Frank Altamuro, and COR team member, Daniel Rowe, took to the podium next to tell of their recent experience concerning advocacy.  They explained how both Student Government and COR team had recently attended a seminar concerning the matter and had become Catholic Relief Services Ambassadors certified in the practice of advocacy.  They concluded by telling of how they planned to use their certification to advocate for fair trade on campus.

            After a few closing remarks from, Dr. Joseph Glass, the entire audience got out of their seats, not to leave, but instead to sing along with the Christina Brame Gospel Choir. Dr. Mac Given, Dean of Arts and Sciences, joined the choir with his improvised musical contribution on clarinet. The Choir came out with two exciting songs, Jacobs Ladder and We Shall Overcome, that roared through the theatre and got the whole crowd into the spirit of the theme of the evening.

            Upon leaving the theatre all who participated were greeted with a fair trade table, sponsored by CRS Ambassadors and the Neumann Student Peace Alliance. The fair trade table sold fair trade items such as coffee and chocolate to promote fair labor and justice in the area of wages for those who provide our goods.   This table was accompanied by complimentary refreshments, cookies, teas and hot chocolate.  In addition, many people visited The Children’s Journey art display that was present in the Great Hall. The entire event was sponsored by Campus Ministry, Student Government and the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia who treated all in attendance to a truly special experience.

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