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A Prayer for Sudan
May 3, 2005

For the past several months Calvin professor Linda Welker's "Community-Based Drama" class has been learning the stories of local Sudanese Lost Boys and other Sudanese refugees.

On Monday, May 9 at 8 pm the class will put on a benefit performance called "A Prayer for Sudan" that will bring those stories - through narrative, poems, music, images and movement - to the wider community that the Sudanese now call home.

That show will be held in Calvin's Gezon Auditorium and proceeds from the multimedia performance will benefit the Sudanese Christian School for Orphans, a ministry of Worldwide Christian Schools.

The class will also perform the work at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 15 as part of a Sudanese festival at Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids.

Welker's students learned the story of the Lost Boys through the process of ethnography, the study and recording of human cultures and the performance that comes from that study.

The material came from both formal and informal interviews by Welker's class, and includes transcripts from interviews, poems written by the Sudanese, music, photographs and more.

Welker views her students' role as that of cultural liaisons, saying "we don't make any claim to be telling the whole story. Our idea is that we are holding up a mirror - a reflection."

Welker calls this process "community-based drama" and it usually involves a cultural group telling its own story. She says it is a democratizing process, meant to assist groups that are marginalized.

The drama deals with both the harrowing trauma the Lost Boys suffered in losing their home of origin and the dislocation and alienation in their resettlement in Grand Rapids.

The drama will also feature some of the photographs taken by Calvin alumnus Ryan Reed during his recent travels in the Sudan.