Insight on the Grassroots Intellectual Experience: The Triumphs and Struggles – Part One

Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina | Mother, Educator, Culture Preservationist, Spiritual Leader +

Sometimes when you’ve gone a distance in one direction, you realize that bringing along what you learned in the other direction will take you further and that actually, they both not only lead to the same place, but are a necessary balance of each other.

Multi-disciplinary educator, cultural performing artist, naturopathic therapist, ordained minister, community developer, scholar and visionary, Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina’s story would fill bookshelves, but she’s probably burned the books. Instead she just writes them with each step and publishes new volumes with every new day. Her grassroots related experiences have taught her things that experiential learning explain best. A type of ‘common’ sense usually expected from the street, while her background in the halls of academia have her at an exceptional advantage above others who focus only on one specific area of expertise.

“Essentially because of the work that I do, sometimes the integration and the synergy is exceptional, and then other times it seems like there’s resistance…” Dr. Kahina

Per Ankh, Inc. is a charitable and spiritually centered non-government organization (NGO) and non-profit organization (NPO) “livicated to providing educational, cultural, environmental, social, holistic health & wellness, artistic, spiritual & other naturalistic resources and supports that positively contribute to the comprehensive improvement & sustainable development of our local, national and global communities.”

The University of the Virgin Islands V. I. and Caribbean Culture Center (VICCC) is designated to produce, develop and institute state-of-the-art research, publications, mixed media networks and programs, regional and international conferences, collaborative initiatives, academic and community partnerships, interdisciplinary cultural exchanges, socioeconomic development and heritage tourism events, educational resources and more.

As the primary Director of both entities as well as the leader of a number of others, Dr. Chen, as she’s often compassionately called has the opportunity to merge so much of her prior grassroots life experience prior to working at the University of the Virgin Islands in her current capacity as Director of the VICCC as well as the Center for the Study of Spirituality and Professionalism (CSAP).

When asked about how she balances the two, Dr. Kahina responds thoughtfully. “There’s a synergy that exists between culture, spirituality, the arts and technology that my work at the UVI gives me an opportunity to lend over to CSAP and the VICCC into what I do which Per Ankh and Smai Tawi, CPAN, PADU and a host of other global activities…” Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina

“In all things Pan African, conduct oneself with character, courtesy and common sense.”

Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) Practicing Ma’at in Organizing the African Diaspora By David L. Horne, Ph.D.

Q: What would you suggest for approaching and responding to schools that ask for Black History presentations when you know they’re only asking you to come in because it’s Black History Month:

A: Dr. Kahina simply suggested a wealth of online sites that have related information made available in an ongoing everyday way. This way, the resources could be shared with students in a way that is easy to access and always available. She explained that this is important so that they can see that Black History is all the time and it is World history, not just information that is useful to one set of people.

We also discussed that one can’t really speak about Virgin Islands history without knowing and showing that it is Caribbean history.

Q: What do you think the students can contribute as well as learn at the same time… they can’t share what they don’t know so they have to be taught then encouraged to share with others.

A: They can go to various resources locally including people and places like our campus and public libraries, the Digital Library of the Caribbean as well as various offices like our Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and V. I. Humanities Council.

Learn more about experiences with the community that make it challenging to want to keep giving as well as the small triumphs that make all the sacrifices worth it in Part Two of Insight on the Grassroots Intellectual Experience: The Triumphs and Struggles with Dr. Chenzira Kahina and others.

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