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'09 SV grad goes to Kenya for music program

Nicole Kukieza conducts students in Mukuru, Nairobi, during an instrumental practice as part of the Art of Music Foundation program she took part in there.

Life-changing doesn't begin to describe Nicole Kukieza's experience in Kenya.

The Seneca Valley High School Class of 2009 graduate recently visited the African country for two weeks, from July 5-21, as part of the Art of Music Foundation. She was able to participate due to a fellowship granted to her by the Fund for Teachers Fellowship.

Located in Nairobi, Kenya, Art of Music was founded in 2009. According to its official statement, Art of Music has a “mission to promote the performance and appreciation of art music in Kenya and use its transformative power to change lives, particularly of those living in underprivileged areas of the country.”

Art of Music has two programs: Ghetto Classics and the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya.

During her time in Kenya, Kukieza focused on both groups. She went to various slums and low-income areas to teach children the recorder and, with the orchestra, she prepared her students to play for former President, Barack Obama.

“They channeled that excitement through wanting to learn,” Kukieza said. “It was pretty amazing that, despite their circumstances, they were excited to learn. They are so proud of their country.”

Kukieza said her experience was “eye-opening” and that she left Kenya with a greater perspective of the world.

“It showed me the importance of education,” she said.

Read more about Kukieza's trip in Friday's Butler Eagle.

Students mug for the camera after Nicole Kukieza’s recorder class in a rural Kongo primary school.

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