Arts YOUniverse hosts Embrace a Child in Tanzania event

Michael Filipski, Correspondent

Wilkes is giving the community a chance to support an orphaned African child, enjoy music and refreshments and learn about a fascinating culture, all in one night.

On December 1, 2011, Zebra Communications, Wilkes University’s student-run public relations agency and Downtown Arts will be hosting Embrace a Child in Tanzania, an event to benefit children orphaned due to AIDS in Tanzania.

Located at Arts YOUniverse in Wilkes-Barre, the event will begin at 6 p.m. and will feature live entertainment, refreshments and immersion into a new culture. Admission to the event will be $15, but those who bring a dish to share will be admitted for only $10.

Performing at the event will be the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble. Based in Camden, New Jersey and founded in 1984, they have grown to become one of the largest African dance and drum ensembles in the U.S. They were chosen to represent the U.S. at the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakal, Senegal.

The Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble has been sanctioned the best of its kind by scholars, historians and African experts.  The group is made up of stilt walkers, dancers and ground masquerades, performing dance, song and drum pieces from many sections and cultures of Africa. Each performance by the group can be made up of anywhere between two to 69 performers. This is not their first appearance in the area, as they have performed locally at the Wilkes-Barre Fine Arts Fiesta in May, 2010.

At the event, Zebra will also be giving away an autographed copy of the 1974 album “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll” by The Rolling Stones. The 14th U.S. studio album by the band features such songs as “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Till
the Next Goodbye,” and the title-track, “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll.” The album, which is framed and sealed behind glass, features the signatures of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts. On the back of the album is the albums certificate of authenticity, and can be shipped if necessary.

The album, which went platinum in the U.S., was received generally positive by both critics and fans, being seen as a definite turning point for the band. Jon Landau of Rolling Stone stated, “’It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll’ [is] one of the most intriguing and mysterious, as well as the darkest, of all Rolling Stones records.”

Senior English major Liza Prokop, member of the “Embrace a Child” team, plans to go to Tanzania through Wilkes University to attempt to help the Tanzanian community firsthand.

“When I first heard about the Tanzania project, it really hit home after personally knowing many people over the years impacted by HIV/AIDS,” Prokop said. “It really is a local epidemic as well as a global epidemic. I felt that the trip would provide a life changing experience to contribute to a global health issue and see our campaign efforts in Tanzania take shape.”

Evene Estwick, associate professor of communication studies at Wilkes, is co-coordinating the “Embrace a Child” project. She explained that the funds raised at this event will go directly to help pay for the living expenses and educational funds for particularly exceptional students who lost their parents to AIDS.

“The great thing about this is you actually know where your money is going, you know who you’re sponsoring, it’s not anonymous,” Estwick said.

Admission to the event will be $15, but those who bring a dish to share will be admitted for only $10.  Arts YOUniverse is located at 47 N. Franklin St. For ticket information, contact Zebra Communications at 570-408-4158.