Meet Our Graduate Research Assistants

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Meet Our Graduate Research Assistants

Traveling To Liberia


Through the Inheritance Baltimore project, the Johns Hopkins University Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship has partnered with Orita’s Cross Freedom School to support and advance freedom education in Black Baltimore. Aligned with RIC’s commitment to exploring how racial hierarchies interact with migration flows to shape citizenship, national identity, and practices of democratic inclusion and social exclusion, recent Inheritance Baltimore sub-grantee and Maryland nonprofit Burning Barriers Building Bridges (B4 Youth Theatre) is hosting the 200 Years of Returns performance in Liberia, West Africa, this month in commemoration of the Liberian bicentennial.
Two graduate research assistants are traveling to Liberia to understand the impact of multiple migrations on human diversity in Liberia and its diaspora, build research skills for collecting and making sense of embodied and performance-based information, and develop effective cross-cultural communication skills. The students will document the development, rehearsal, and performance processes of the 200 Years of Returns ensemble with the goal of co-authoring publications with some of the artists for relevant academic journals.

Joyce Kenkpen

Joyce is a student at the University of Scranton where she's pursuing her Master's in Business Administration and Healthcare Administration. She was born in Liberia and moved to Maryland, USA in 2016. 
As a former Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs of Liberia, Joyce is excited to be part of this project because it gives her a chance to contribute to the story of Liberia. While at the ministry, she helped renovate and reopen the National Museum of Liberia. She believes this project is personal because she understands how important it is to have a diverse perspective on the nation's journey. Joyce asserts, "this is a step in redefining who we are and celebrating our rich culture as a people". For her, this is an event of a lifetime.

Markya Reed

Markya is a graduate student at the University of Maryland studying sociology. She is passionate about youth empowerment and civic engagement and works at the university and a local high school in Baltimore City. At that high school, she works with immigrant students on career readiness, college preparation, and community service. Markya has worked with Black and Latin youths in Baltimore for six years and would like to dedicate her career to building safe environments and pathways to success for them.
Markya loves that  B4 Youth Theatre is empowering youths through the arts and storytelling. She is honored to be able to capture that through the graduate research assistant role. She states, "storytelling is an underrated feature of thriving democracies and civic engagement". She believes B4YT executes that brilliantly. Also, she is always excited to explore identity, history, and the ways in which those two topics intersect. She is an African-American woman whose ancestry traces back to West Africa, specifically Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia. The 200 Years of Returns project is special because she will visit the place her ancestors settled and learn the history with an amazing group of people. 


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