Sister Cities unites girls from Camden and Philadelphia

From the desk of SCG Teaching Artist Kendra Balmer:

Have you ever seen one of those YouTube videos from security cameras filming people performing acts of kindness? There are thousands of hours of helping the elderly cross the street or climbing to rescue animals. They’re set to inspirational music and reminds us that people are beautiful beings. My favorite part about my involvement with Sister Cities GirlChoir is that I am blessed with those moments in real time…almost every day.

Beginning in 2012, I grew to know Sister Cities’s middle school girls, and simultaneously formed a bond with the elementary school girls of Universal Daroff. The middle school girls thrived at a chance to share their voice and took every chance they could to use them. They displayed their inner beauty through song and dance while forming ever lasting bonds with each other. The elementary school girls were not aware of Sister Cities, but they shared a love of music and camaraderie with their peers a la Sister Cities GirlChoir. As I watched the growth of both groups, engaging in positive communication, empowering each other, and making magical music… I wondered what was next in our journey.
In our recent growth Sister Cities added new sites to the program, creating an elementary-high school span of ages. The most exciting part of this merge was the day we all met in one place to have one voice. Much like a girl bringing home a new friend to her family, I deeply hoped that the separate groups loved each other once combined, as I loved them both. What I saw on that day and since was beyond my wildest dreams.
Middle school girls who may have found it difficult to get along with their peers suddenly banned together for the good of the younger girls experience. Younger girls who hid in a shell suddenly were warmed with comfort and danced around with their accepted personalities. Strangers practiced getting to know each other in a way the world should practice more often. Differences such as neighborhoods were celebrated with smiles, and similarities such as shared knowledge of music amongst new friends made life-long bonds. Suddenly everything that the schools had been working on in separate pieces was made whole and completely made sense.
I thought maybe the excitement of this collaboration between all of the Sister Cities sites would die down once the day was over, and it would just be a special moment we could always remember. But now, weeks later, elementary girls at Daroff are still showing signs of their new addition to their lives. At breakfast, lunch, and recess girls lead the entire school in song and dance. Each girl smiles and says hello while we share a quick acknowledging look that we lived through something positive and meaningful.
The best part of the story is that it will only grow from here. Each time the girls reunite I think it’s safe to assume the bond will only grow deeper. Each time a new girl joins the group, the cycle of positive humanity will grow. The world is ready for the next step in their journey. The time is now, listen…can you hear it?Image

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