To ensure that breaking walls creates a sustainable collaboration, we offer three levels of involvement for youth: artists, 13 to 20, write and perform their original work for a live audience; ambassadors, 17 to 21, former artists who mentor the writing/performing process; and, associates, 22 to 25, participants from past Breaking Walls initiatives who have become prominent leaders in their home communities. Each breaking walls artist and ambassador is a part of a forum where young voices are creatively represented and nurtured on the path to leadership.
Starting in 2008, a core group of young men and women from Brooklyn and Bethlehem committed themselves to challenging the media negative images of youth and transforming their life experiences, into a movement to assist youth world-wide. After writing and performing their work in two documentaries, these young adults will take the world-stage as breaking walls’ creative leaders.
“Living in a refugee camp is not easy especially if you are forced to live in one. I consider living in the camp like staying in a station while waiting for your train to go back home. Even though the camp is small and crowded, and every day you are fearful, I feel I have a responsibility to myself, my family and my people to create a better future. I am strong in contrast to the weakness of the situation in the camp. I’m like a bird that fights for his freedom. I have my goals that I want to achieve.
“Joining the brooklyn bridges – to bethlehem & back documentary made me feel that I’m not alone. No matter if you are black or white, what language you speak, or which area you live in- We are humans. We share the same interests and problems with few differences. We live on the same planet. Why not try to become friends? Why not try to work together for the best?”
“I learned a lot from this documentary. For one thing, it is very important to find yourself—to discover what you are capable of doing, and look for the beauty in everything; then, you will be a person who truly knows himself. I am happy that I will be able to share this idea with the kids in Berlin. I am proud to be a leader now.
breaking walls is proud to announce the addition of our Berlin ambassador Merve Kania.
2012 Berlin artist, 2014, 2015 Cape Town ambassador, 2017 Warsaw associate — Merve was born and raised in the multicultural district Kreuzberg in Berlin, Germany. There she joined breaking walls in 2012. In 2014, she became an ambassador in Cape Town. Furthermore, she and Neha Dutt spearhead our German breaking walls hub since 2013. Meanwhile, Merve pursues a bachelor degree in International Relations (IR) and Social Science at the University of Erfurt in Thuringia.
“breaking walls continuously makes me a richer person. Be it in front of or as part of the class, it changes my outlook on myself and others. Giving youth from so many different countries, cultures, and continents an opportunity to express and share their most personal thoughts in such a creative and cooperative way fills me with pride. I hope that they experience something as magical as I did and every time do with breaking walls: Our circumstances may look different but our fears and dreams are so similar.”
breaking walls is proud to announce the addition of four new ambassadors from Berlin and Brooklyn.
MARTHA CROWE — 2015, 2016 ambassador & 2017 Warsaw associate – Martha Crowe was born in Manchester, England and moved to Berlin age eleven. She joined breaking walls as an artist in the 2012 Berlin initiative and has since participated in the 2014 Cape Town initiative. Currently she is working together with fellow breaking walls artist, Neha Dutt, to lead a workshop in Berlin. This workshop, ‘Breaking Walls Berlin, 2015- Building Bridges’ , will bring together youth from a refugee transit camp and surrounding high schools.
“Being a part of breaking walls has given me so much strength- being a part of this family means constantly being pushed to see things differently, to react with honesty and improve yourself as an individual and a member of society. I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to facilitate other youth as they begin their involvement with our vision.”
ALLEAH JOHNSON — 2015 Barcelona ambassador – Alleah Johnson currently attends University at Albany and she a breaking walls ambassador. Alleah joined breaking walls back in 2012 when breaking walls director/founder, Fran came to ACORN Community High School in search of new writers/ performers. Alleah was highly intrigued with the fact that she would be able to travel to a different country and have new experiences. When she traveled to Berlin the experience there was one that was eye opening for her. She was able to intermingle closely with another culture other than her own. The chance to have that interaction was something she couldn’t have imagined it being. Since going to Cape Town, Alleah has learned to truly appreciate all the opportunities that she has been given through breaking walls. Now in 2015, three years later, she is being given this great chance to be an ambassador and help others children to empower themselves and to know that they can do anything they put their minds to accomplish.
“breaking walls has completely shaped the confident, outgoing and free spirited woman that I am today. These continuous experiences with breaking walls have made me know that I can follow my dreams and become an Obstetrician. Overall going to Barcelona as an ambassador this year, for me, is a chance to show my true leadership and be the best role model I can be in order to help inspire others to know that they could and should follow what they believe in.”
TATIANA KEE — 2015, 2016, 2017 ambassador — Tatiana Monaye Kee was a Brooklyn Artist and now she is a Brooklyn ambassador for breaking walls. Tatiana has been a part of breaking walls since 2012. She was an artist when breaking walls did initiatives in Berlin and Cape Town. Those experiences encouraged Tatiana to be an active member in society and think of others before herself. Being an ambassador now will not change her vision for a better society but it will give her a better plan to work on her world vision.
“If you’re looking for a solution to make the world a different and better place, breaking walls is that solution.”
breaking walls is proud to announce the addition of our Cape Town ambassador Indiphile Nqevu for 2016 Detroit.
“Being part of Breaking Walls and Rainbow Dreams Trust has been a life changer for me. These experiences have transformed me into a positive young person who always strives to be the very best. Who tries to lead by example and persevere for a better future.
“I am a young girl from a poor background in a poor community. A community where there are gangs, teenage pregnancy, violence. These situations made me see things from one perspective. They made me think that “This is the way of living, this is how it will be in my life.”
“On the other hand, my family has always been supportive, pushing me to work hard in life and be successful so that I can live in a better place. Still, it was hard for me to believe that there is a better place than where I am living and growing up.
“I listened to my family’s advice and had faith and dreamt of this place. But I didn’t know where I belonged. Did I belong in my dream world or was my poor community where I belonged?’ I constantly questioned myself.
“Then I got the opportunity of being chosen to be a member of Rainbow Dreams Trust (TBACA). This is where I found a sense of belonging. We were taught how to be confident, dream and have hope. We were given knowledge about life, its obstacles, the choices we make and their consequences. We were taught to think out of the box, to be adventurous and to be extroverts – and to aim high because we are unique and special.
“Through Rainbow Dreams Trust I have been given a great opportunity – to be a Breaking Walls artist. I started my Breaking Walls journey in 2014! I always remember, what we wrote as one of our first writing trigger in 2014, ‘We are not the product of our situation, but of our choices.’ These words inspired me then and today.
“When I was chosen as a Breaking Walls artist, it was a moment I will always remember as a shining star in my life. I always believed that other youngsters my age had no worries, no problems or obstacles to face, but breaking walls proved me wrong. Yes, we may live in different countries, come from different backgrounds, but the challenges that we face are all the same. breaking walls unites us with all our international peers – allowing empathy, tolerance and peacebuilding to blossom.
“Breaking Walls allows us to get our voices out through our creative writing about the challenges we all face and how we can overcome them. breaking walls gives us the experience of struggling for peace, love and unity. We come to understand that with unity we can break the walls of hate, low self-esteem, and create peace, love, acceptance. Breaking Walls teaches us not to judge people as we are all the same, and yet – each of us are one-of-a-kind and special.
“Being chosen 2016 to be a Breaking Walls ambassador makes me strive even harder for peace and to teach others to love thy neighbor as you love yourself. Breaking Walls has constructed me into a great leader and a good example for other youth.
“I eagerly look forward to Breaking Walls 2017 Warsaw.”
breaking walls is proud to announce the addition of our 2017 Warsaw ambassadors Joshua Brisa, Nuria Martin, Egypt Murppy-Smith and Athenkosi Nyembezi.
Joshua Brisa was born in Barcelona. He 21 years old and an actor. All his life all he has ever wanted was to inspire and help people. He chose art because of the power it gives people and the beauty of it!! “Breaking Walls offers me the master key to connect with other people form around the globe so that we can use our voices to help change the world and make it a better place!”
Núria Martín Àvila is a Barcelona Breaking Walls 2017 ambassador after two years of taking part in the program as an artist. She is 20 years old but since very young she started with her passion: theatre. She has always taken classes in Igualada, her city, until she decided to start a new and more serious career of theatre in Barcelona.
It was in this new school called “Col·legi del Teatre de Barcelona” where she knew for the first time about Breaking Walls and decided to join. It was one of the best decisions Nuria have ever taken.
Breaking Walls is the change she needed in her life. She was not in my best personal situation when she joined but all those people she met in 2015 changed her life for better. Nuria will never be grateful enough to all of them.
Breaking Walls it is a very positive initiative that started very small and nowadays is huge. Lot of people are taking part of it and it is very nice to see how many people from so many places of the world work together for the same goal: to create a global dialog using the artistic art and skills of the members.
“Breaking Walls has become a global family, my global family and I will always have a piece in my heart for all of them.”
Egypt Murppy-Smith was born on November 14, 1998. She was a Junior at Brooklyn’s ACORN Community High School when she found out about Breaking Walls. Since that first encounter, Egypt has successfully participated as a Breaking Walls artist in our Barcelona and Detroit initiatives. Egypt is now a student at Medgar Evers College where she is majoring in Psychology. “Breaking Walls gives me a platform to share my story in a way to help other people. It makes me realize that even though we live in different parts of the world, it does not mean we don’t share the same pain of many kinds of abuse. We all have this one thing in common, we are teenagers who want to be heard. We just want to influence the world to focus on a different direction. Breaking Wall teaches me we build bridges not walls.”
Athenkosi Nyembezi was born on September 12,1999 in Cape Town, South Africa. He attends Phillipi High School. After graduation, Athenkosi intends to pursue a Law Degree. “Breaking Walls has given me the opportunity to share my wisdom. In this way I gain some wisdom from my fellow Breaking Walls artists, ambassadors and associates in return. This exchange has changed how I think about things, like how Britani from Brooklyn told me, ‘You are good as an individual, but we are more strong as a team.’ Now I realize that when I rise, I must rise with others. Breaking Walls has made me to be a team player.”