The unexpected scope of this cultural and artistic exchange hits me with waves of feelings that are so intense that I hear myself exhaling loudly. I pause and breathe because the enormity shatters my ability to breathe rationally. This week has made it difficult for me to breathe.

(A sunset in Kentucky welcomes the smiles of Kenya)

This exchange between Kenyatta University and the University of Cincinnati, between students in two programs from two countries on two continents with similar aims and missions is resonating beyond the shores of my imagination. I hear and feel the whispers of support from a world made nasty.


I hear from my family and my relatives and friends, strong support shining from the sturdy shores of Lake Erie, in Buffalo, New York. I hear from former students; my 29 years of teaching means that I hear from students from Williamsville East High School in Buffalo, and from three decades of students from the College-Conservatory of Music, from CCM. I hear from Kenyan students, from those who gave me purpose in Harambee Hall at Kenyatta University. I hear from unexpected places, and feel support from those I never suspected knew of this venture. Buckeyes, peanut butter and chocolate confections specific to Ohio, are driven from New Jersey as a gift to our guests by a former student’s father. An alumnus from 1999 appears this morning while we wait for the elevator from the parking garage and gets his photo taken with the Kenyans and the Dean of the College a few minutes later. Everyone wants to meet the Kenyans. I have created a celebrity culture for them, and I am proud to share them with everyone. I want everyone to know that this happened. This is real.


See? Do you really see this?


I hope my hope is valid. I hear myself saying “five years from now”, and “ten years from now’ when speaking with Christine, Austin, Eric, Muriithi, Jean, and Babu, willing the future to give these artists and this exchange ripples of unknown meaning. I have challenged my Kenyan students to do the same for me in their futures-to-be; I want them to be so successful and so happy and so appreciated that their artistic lives have import, have meaning, and they will fly me from America to Kenya so that I can be at the premieres of their next great project. Ten years from now.


I hope they are always this happy.

This entry was published on November 5, 2015 at 5:35 am. It’s filed under Culture, People, Random Thoughts, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “ONE HOPE

  1. Hess, Thanks so much. Two years from now, I believe you will come with some students to Kenya and visit ‘Legacy Arts and Film Lab’ and we will experiment with Film and theatre with the locals, the youth and our cultures to create something so big. Legacy Arts and Film Lab is still young, but from this trip, now I believe the purpose to which I was driven to start the project in my home area. You have inspired me big time, this experience has broadened my vision, it will grow, it will grow bigger, because you gave our youth and I a chance to experience this art in America.

  2. Austin on said:

    Wow. Challenge accepted 🙂

  3. Beverly Croskery on said:

    It is an amazing time. I am so glad you chose to take on this project in spite of the cost and the difficulty. Does the Enquirer know about this?
    I forgot to have my picture taken with the Kenyans! Darn!

  4. Sarah Masese on said:

    Your act of kindness will go a long way Richard Hess. Besides blessing the seven Kenyans in Cincinnati and Cincinnati as a whole, you continue to bless people like me who watch closely. The pictures speak volumes. Joy,new friendship, shock, love, family, a team, a new home. Name it. I believe they will always be happy and reciprocate the same when they come back to Kenya. You are a GEM! Stay blessed always! The world needs more selfless people like you!

  5. I have cried tears of joy these past few days because I’ve had the privilege to tell Ohio Art Educators about my very special friend, his humanity and the everlasting miracle of these very special talented Kenyans…the ripples of affects for generations to come…words are inadequate, this must be seen, felt, embraced and witnessed..what a legacy to humanity and creativity….it is forever in my mind, heart and vision-I call it my Michelangelo Moment-when you see the connection/reach/spark between Adam & God…

    • This is truly an everlasting miracle. I am beside myself with eagerness, waiting to see the films tomorrow. The event is a success already. Thank you Marge.

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