China and Thailand Travel Showcase Features Hip Hop and More

A night of hip hop music, art, dance and performance is planned March 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 115 Seerley on the University of Northern Iowa campus. The UNI community and general public are welcome to attend.

The evening is an outgrowth of community collaborations that led to students from University of Northern Iowa and the Waterloo Community School District performing at cultural festivals in Thailand in January and in China last fall.  The travel showcase will feature video of the trips as well as live performances by the students along with guest performers from Des Moines and the Waterloo area.

The full line-up of events includes:

  • Video of the China trip, including performances by the Waterloo Hip Hop Literacy students at the Hangzhou Citizens Leisure Festival;
  • Video of the Thailand trip, part of the Thailand International Folklore Festival, which included the UNI hip hop dance group, The Movement.
  • Live performances by both student groups.
  • Additional hip hop performances by Des Moines-based Hip Hope, and King Tez and Marcus Jackson, local performers.
  • Written works and art projects by Waterloo students who are part of the Waterloo Writing Project and Youth Art Forum.

The Waterloo students who participated in the China trip are part of the Hip Hop Literacy group in Waterloo, a summer camp co-founded by Shuaib Meacham, Ph.D., associate professor of literacy education at the UNI College of Education, and Lamont Muhammed, a teacher with the Waterloo school district. Meacham sees both trips as reflective of partnerships in place. “They really grew out of community connections that have been made. Waterloo has so many resources and talent, so it’s been one of my purposes to connect with talented artists here and bring them into connection with the hip hop program.”

During the China trip, representatives of the Thailand festival extended an invitation to perform in January. This time, UNI undergraduate students who are part of a campus hip hop dance group called The Movement joined other local artists and performers on the trip.

The performers in both China and Thailand were treated like celebrities, Meacham said. “In China, the global demand of US hip hop was a real source of fascination. We had the youngest group there, yet had teenagers looking for our kids in hallways and wanting to know them better. Thailand was more of the same, but on a larger level, because we went to rural cities there.”