February 15, 2006: Headlines: COS - Peru: African American Issues: Minority Volunteers: Music: Peace Corps: African-American Peace Corps volunteer Angela Jones has — to her surprise — blended into Peru

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Peace Corps Peru: The Peace Corps in Peru: February 15, 2006: Headlines: COS - Peru: African American Issues: Minority Volunteers: Music: Peace Corps: African-American Peace Corps volunteer Angela Jones has — to her surprise — blended into Peru

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African-American Peace Corps volunteer Angela Jones has — to her surprise — blended into Peru

African-American Peace Corps volunteer Angela Jones has — to her surprise — blended into Peru

As one of her secondary projects, Jones recently formed an association of black volunteers along with two other Peace Corps colleagues. The association works as a support group and forum for understanding the experiences of Africans living in Peru. The group travels to villages with large black populations, where they talk with community members about their issues and integration into mainstream Peruvian society.

African-American Peace Corps volunteer Angela Jones has — to her surprise — blended into Peru

Peace Corps Volunteer Changing the Face of America Abroad

In celebration of the 45th anniversary and Black History Month, this is the second in a series of features on diverse Peace Corps volunteers.

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 15, 2006 – African-American Peace Corps volunteer Angela Jones has — to her surprise — blended into Peru.

"I've sometimes been mistaken for a Peruvian from a part of the country where there is a healthy population of African Peruvians. It's a nice and unexpected feeling," Jones said, regarding her experience in diverse Peru, where ethnicities range from Amerindian to Black to Chinese.

A Detroit, Mich., native, Jones is a youth development volunteer in a small mountainous community. Throughout her time as a Peace Corps volunteer, she has used creative and unusual projects to be a powerful advocate for youth: organizing role playing workshops, poetry anthologies, and skits written and performed by her young students. She also works with children and adults teaching English.

As one of her secondary projects, Jones recently formed an association of black volunteers along with two other Peace Corps colleagues. The association works as a support group and forum for understanding the experiences of Africans living in Peru. The group travels to villages with large black populations, where they talk with community members about their issues and integration into mainstream Peruvian society. The group's travels have allowed them to develop a better understanding of the Peruvian culture, as well as allowed for Peruvians to get a better sense of the diverse makeup of the U.S.

"We formed this group for support, but also in an attempt to understand the experience of African Peruvians," said Jones. "As we visited villages with large black populations, we found that their experiences were similar to ours in America. And more important, we helped them learn that the U.S. is very diverse."

According to Jones, most Peruvians get their perception of American culture from American media such as television, movies, music and world news, which she thinks is not always a very good mirror of the country and its people. Jones constantly runs into Peruvians who are surprised when she tells them she's an American. Many people are taken aback, and some have even told her, "you must be a rarity as there are only 'white' people in the United States."

Although the cultural differences were difficult to get used to, she said her presence in local communities has altered perceptions of diversity in the United States.

Initially, before leaving the U.S. for the Peace Corps, Jones' family and friends were hesitant about her decision, but she said that being persistent in communicating a desire to serve made all the difference for her.

"Our families love us, and if we communicate well with them our desire to do good — even if that's far from home — then they have a tendency to understand, and even admire our decisions," said Jones.

Peru was one of the first countries to welcome Peace Corps volunteers, who began working there in 1962. Volunteers worked in grass-roots development projects targeting health, agriculture, education and business development, until the program was closed in 1975. Returning in 2002 after a 27-year hiatus, Peace Corps/Peru is responding to the national development needs of strengthening civil society, reducing poverty, and building human capital. The program reopened with two projects in the areas of small business development and health. A new youth development program began in March 2004.



African Influences in Peru: “La Morena de Oro del Perú”

Peace Corps Online

Lucha Reyes placed black performers among the leading interpreters of the vals criollo and marinera genres. Songs such as "Que Importa" of Juan Mosto (What Does One More Failure Matter)¸ with lyrics like "yet another failure is but a drop of water in the ocean for me" were made famous by Lucha Reyes and made here a National icon, as well as her songs, rich with Peruvian Nationalism and criollo pride.

Biography of Lucha Reyes

[Excerpt]

Lucila J. Sarsines Reyes (July 19, 1936-October 31, 1973), was a Peruvian performer and one the most respected singers of her country, one of Peru's most famous Afro-Peruvian personalities as well as a symbol of Peruvian nationalism both in Peru and to expatriates. Lucha Reyes placed black performers among the leading interpreters of the vals criollo and marinera genres. Songs such as "Que Importa" of Juan Mosto (What Does One More Failure Matter)¸ with lyrics like "yet another failure is but a drop of water in the ocean for me" were made famous by Lucha Reyes and made here a National icon, as well as her songs, rich with Peruvian Nationalism and criollo pride.

Followed by a public who idolized her in life, and wanting to close its existence with a finishing touch, Lucha Reyes asked composer Pedro Pacheco to write "Mi Ultima Cancion" ("My Last Song") one of her more touching and collected recordings, and on October 30, 1973, one day before her death, she sang "My Last Song" live in a well-known local radio broadcasting station with sincere tears in her eyes. On the following day, the October 31, 1973, Lucha Reyes, “La Morena de Oro del Perú” (the Gold Colored One of Peru) passed away. She is buried in the "Cemetery the Angel" in Lima.




Lucha Reyes - la Billie Holiday Peruana

Peace Corps Online

Se cumplen 30 años de la muerte de Lucha Reyes.

Lucha Reina

por Tulio Mora, Caretas

Y cómo pretender la voz más pura/ sin traicionar a mis estrellas/
sucias de moho y esputo./ Y cómo pretender el vals eterno/
sin dejar en las ventanas/ sangre niebla smog/ y no morir.


SU vida fue una telenovela, como deben ser las vidas de quienes están destinados a ser iconos del parnaso popular. El melodrama más triste del mundo que se puede sintetizar en un condicionamiento de ribetes trágicos griegos: "Tuvo cuatro handicaps terribles", afirma Eduardo Adrianzén, guionista de la serie "Regresa", inspirada en la vida de Lucha Reyes: "era mujer, pobre, negra y fea". Pero quizá estos obstáculos con sabor a condena a muerte o a anonimato, en la sociedad peruana, fueron los que contrastaron y resaltaron la única cualidad que se le debe pedir a una cantante: tener voz ("Tu voz/ tu voz/ tu voz/ tu voz existe/ anida en el jardín de lo soñado", cantaba en versos de Juan Gonzalo Rose). Y Lucha Reyes era la mejor.

Una simple biografía dirá que nació en el Rímac, en el barrio de Aromito, que tuvo 15 hermanos, que creció vendiendo loterías y mendigando y que casi muere carbonizada cuando se incendió su casa en los Barracones del Callao. Luego sería recogida por monjas franciscanas en el convento del Buen Retiro. Para el propio Adrianzén, "era la niña más pobre del mundo. Tan es así, que el primer valse que canta es "Abandonada", la historia de niña que mendiga por la ciudad y busca amor ("Vagaba sola por las calles, harapienta/ tenía el rostro demacrado por la crueldad").

Carente de toda técnica vocal, estudio musical o sofisticación artística, la voz de Lucha Reyes, prístina, se abrió paso en un mundo sin ecualizadores, en el que la música peruana se encontraba en apogeo o redescubrimiento gracias al velasquismo. Fue estrella en el circuito jaranero (que empezaba en el Karamanduka, pasaba por El Sentir de los Barrios, y cuyo trampolín era la Peña Ferrando -donde imitaba a Celia Cruz y a Lucha Reyes, una cantante mexicana homónima de comienzos de siglo), y luego alcanzó la fama grabando long plays que animarían hasta hoy los amores más desdichados de los bares de Barrios Altos y Cercado ("Aunque me odies", "Malabrigo", "Una carta al cielo"), y las polladas y anticuchadas de quienes aún se animan a reivindicar la limeñidad, si es que esto existe.

De "La Morena de Oro" no se sabe a ciencia cierta cuántos hijos tuvo ni cuántas parejas sentimentales, ni por qué no hizo nada por detener su muerte. Se sabe, sí, que se entregó a un destino que presentía (antes de fallecer mandó componer "Mi Última Canción" a Pedro Pacheco) dejando como testimonio de lucha su límpida voz de desgarro, que empató perfecto tanto con los criollos cholos-chinos-negros de la Lima proletaria de barriada, como con quienes redimían el valse peruano a través de Chabuca Granda (genio en las antípodas).

Cierto es también que "Regresa" es el non plus ultra de la lamentación nacional, y que figuras como la Reyes no volvieron a aparecer. Ella murió, como todo mito, joven (apenas 37 años), diabética, con una tuberculosis mal curada. Su fama apenas le duró 3 años, pero su leyenda obtuvo proporciones. La Edith Piaff peruana, para Michel Gómez, para otros la Billie Holiday, murió, como punto final de un guión imposible pero perfecto, en la víspera del Día de la Canción Criolla. Casi, como diciendo que nunca más se entendería una cosa sin la otra. (JP)





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Story Source: Peace Corps

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Peru; African American Issues; Minority Volunteers; Music

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