From the Providence Journal in Rhode Island . . .
Renowned hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, whose bid for the presidency of his native Haiti was cut short this summer, has been named a visiting fellow at Brown University for the current academic year.
The university announced the unpaid appointment following an unheralded visit to campus on Monday by the Grammy-winning musician and Fugees star.
Jean, who accepted an appointment to the Department of Africana Studies, participated in inaugural events for the Haitian initiative, in which he will be most involved. He’ll return occasionally to join in Haiti-related events.
“It made sense for someone with Wyclef Jean’s investment in Haiti’s future to spend some time here,” said department chairwoman Prof. Tricia Rose. The goal, she said, is to “think together about how we can use education as a positive force in the world.”
Jean, in his low-key day on campus, attended an afternoon lecture by novelist Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian native and Brown graduate, and then an evening lecture by Paul Farmer, an international public-health specialist. The trio got to meet with each other and some members of the faculty during the day.
“It was a very inspiring and powerful thing … They wanted to talk to each other and often don’t get to,” said Rose. “This was just about thinking together … about 15 people having informal conversations … For us, it’s really not about celebrity … We all believe ideas and action and creativity are, altogether, really important for creating just societies and stability. … It’s not just about politics. It’s about informed artistic connections.”
Rose, who is the author of several books about rap music, said she had heard that Jean was interested in the African studies program at Brown “because of its strength,” and because of Jean’s “global approach to people of African descent.” The department, meanwhile, was interested in developing a visiting program for luminaries to participate in lectures, sit in classrooms and collaborate with writers.
“It’s an opportunity to create a more dynamic relationship … [and] allow our ideas and research to move into the public arena,” said Rose. “We were really delighted that he was interested and open to share his ideas.”
“I look forward to my time at Brown as a period of reflection and learning,” Jean said in a statement. “I hope to make a genuine contribution to the rich intellectual community at the university and its Haitian Initiative in particular. I am a lifelong student, and appreciate this unique opportunity to contemplate all the potential and possibilities, as well as the contributions of my homeland, and Haitians in the diaspora, to the world’s creative culture.”
In August, Jean filed for candidacy in the 2010 presidential election. But the performer, who moved from Haiti to New Jersey with his family when he was a child, was ruled ineligible because he had not lived in Haiti for five years.
In 2005, Jean helped lead the establishment of Yele Haiti, whose mission is to provide scholarships, train teachers, repair schools, plant trees and support arts and sports programs.
Since the earthquake in January, it has sought to aid in disaster relief efforts. Questions have been raised about whether the organization has spent the money it raised appropriately, forcing Jean to respond to the criticisms in a YouTube video
For the original report go to http://www.projo.com/news/content/WYCLEF_JEAN_AT_BROWN_10-06-10_E0K7UPQ_v17.207867c.html#