Central Pennsylvania Womyn's Chorus
- HOME - -News- - About Us - - Concert - - Other Events - - Join / Support - -Music-
-Find- - Directions - - Photos - - History - - Members - - Links - -Print-
rainbow spacer

Land of Our Dreams

Spring 2007 concert
May 5 Harrisburg Academy

In Collaboration with the Pennsylvania Immigrant & Refugee Women's Network

This concert season funded in part by a generous grant from Jump Street

Letter to the Editor

After this concert, the following letter was published in the May 29, 2007 edition of the Harrisburg Patriot-News:

There are two organizations in this community worthy of note and support. It was through a friend that I learned of what proved to be a powerful presentation entitled " Land of our Dreams" on May 5 at the Harrisburg Academy.

This was a collaboration between the Central Pennsylvania Womyn's Chorus and the Pennsylvania Immigrant & Refugee Women's Network. Through music, personal stories, images and dance, we learned of women from around the world who have come here.

The courage, hope, hardships and challenges of women who have made the difficult transition from the countries of their birth to this nation were reflected in music magnificently performed by the Womyn's Chorus. This was one of the most eye-opening, inspiring events that I've attended. How heartening that each of the musicians and story-tellers came from our own community.



(published in the program book)

Ho-Thanh Nguyen and Giesala Collins

from the Chorus Director

Welcome to tonight’s performance entitled “Land of Our Dreams.” The Central PA Womyn’s Chorus has teamed up with the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network (PAIRWN) to bring you this unique artistic expression of the human condition. Through the use of song, speech, poetry, prose, visual media, and dance, the listener will be guided on a thought-provoking journey that traces the experiences of women who have left their homelands either by choice or force to come to America. The listener will have an opportunity to listen to several women describe their struggles and joys in assimilating into a new culture while holding on to their own unique culture.

Given today’s social atmosphere on immigration, this concert is rather timely. Many people in today’s society tend to lump people of different ethnicities into one big pot and label that pot “foreigners and immigrants”. It is my hope that through this concert people will become more aware of the differences between the immigrant experience and the refugee experience. Furthermore, it is my desire that people who take this journey will come to appreciate the beauty, richness and diversity of the women of PAIRWN as well as other immigrants and refugees among us in the community.

I am honored to be a part of this co-creation with PAIRWN and to be able to give a stage and voice to this powerful and resilient group of women. May your minds be open and hearts full of love to share in this transcending experience!

Giesala Collins, Artistic Director

from the PAIRWN President

Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us in this celebration, "Land of Our Dreams." We are honored to be part of this concert and to be able to share our stories with you. We thank the Central PA Womyn's Chorus and Jump Street for their support and for helping to create another space for immigrant and refugee women to express themselves.

The Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women's Network (PAIRWN) is the first organization in Pennsylvania to focus directly on immigrant and refugee women's issues. Our mission is to honor and enhance the lives of refugee and immigrant women through networking, referral, and education. We strive to educate others about our cultures and our contributions to American society.

Founded in 2001, PAIRWN is a nonprofit organization centered in the state capital of Harrisburg. Our members come from every region of the world, enabling us to forge friendships across cultures, learn from each other, and use our diverse talents in order to reach our goals. Our current projects, including initiatives for women, youth, elderly, and the broader community, reflect this wealth in many ways.

To learn more about our organization and the myriad possibilities for rewarding partnerships with us, please contact us by phone, email, or visit our website (see below). You can also support us by becoming members and friends of PAIRWN.

Our deepest gratitude goes to the women in this program for their willingness to share their stories. Their courage and spirit, their trials and triumphs, and their contributions to their new home enrich us all.

We sincerely appreciate your support and we hope you enjoy the program.

Ho-Thanh Nguyen, President and Founder

Celebrating a World of Differences
Bringing women together for leadership and fellowship.

Phone (717) 433-0900
Email: pairwn@pairwn.org
Website: www.pairwn.org


The program consisted of songs performed by the chorus, interspersed with spoken reflections by members of PAIRWN. The reflections are indicated here by italic text, and with each is a link to the complete text. All reflections are published on a separate page that you can read by clicking here.


by Chris Purcell

Section 1: Reflections of Childhood and Memories of Home

Sansa Kroma

Akan Playground Song arr. by Felicia A.B. Sandler
Solo: Cathy N.

This is a very popular West African Akan playground song that teaches and guides children to be secure and unafraid of being left alone if their parents were to die. They would not be abandoned — a relative or friend would take them in. In this song, an orphaned hawk named Sansa flies about looking for abandoned chicks. Sansa’s aim is to swoop down and carry them away. To the broader community, the hawk is seen as a predator. Though orphaned, the chicks are carried to safety and will never be left to fend for themselves.

Reflections of Childhood

Nelsy Acosta from Columbia

Click here to read these reflections.

La Lluvia

by Stephen Hatfield

"The Rain:" based on a folk melody from Ecuador, that is traditionally played on the siku, a double row of panpipes that come from the Andes mountains.

Section 2: Leaving and Travelling From One’s Homeland

Voices of women speak from PAIRWN as recorded

Thoughts of Leaving Home

Sarla Goel from India

Click here to read these reflections.


Words and music by Laura Berkson, arr. by Joan Szymko
Violin: Julia Martinez

Miriam is inspired by the story of Miriam from Exodus. When the Hebrews fled Egypt and faced a long and arduous journey across the desert to their promised land, Miriam was their leader as well as Moses. When their pursuers drowned in the sea while the Hebrews escaped, “Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel (tambourine) in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.” It was proper in that culture for refugees to ask their female spiritual leader for a song to inspire the people on such a journey.

Land Of Our Dreams

based on an Armenian Lullaby
with new words & music by Hope Harrison arr. by Jay Althouse
Solo descant: Laura D.

Big Dreams

Belgica A. Jones from Ecuador

Click here to read these reflections.

Ja Sam Tvoj Svjedok

( I am Your Witness) a call and response piece based on Balkan vocal music written by Joan Symko. Ja Sam Tvoj Svjedok means, “I am Your Witness” in Bosnian. The composer was moved by the story of a Seattle mental health professional who started a relief effort following the Bosnian war to attend to the needs of Bosnian women who were systematically raped as part of the Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign. This piece is meant to be sung as a responsorial between readings or testaments to acts of violence against women in times of war and in the home.

Excerpts from “A Path of No Return”

read by author Marica Prozo from Bosnia, between verses of Ja Sam Tvoy Svjedok

Click here to read these excerpts.

Section 3: The Arrival and Adjustment

Would You Harbor Me?

words and music by Ysaye M. Barnwell

Would You Harbor Me? asks the question “Would you take in or assist another human being no matter their label or background?”

Homage a Toi

by Naomi Stephen

Laura D., Adele J., Lee M., Cathy N., Linda M., Susan S., Kim H., Julie L.

Homage A Toi explores the different stages of grief and loss. Many can suffer not only from grieving the loss of loved ones but also from loss of family connections, of culture and language due to assimilation, and of the actual earth herself beneath one’s feet.

A Refugee’s Story

Ho-Thanh Nguyen from Vietnam

Click here to read these reflections.


by Pat Humphfries and Sandy Opatow, arr. by Chris Purcell
with voices of PAIRWN

Refugee is a very rhythmic driving song that describes the life of a refugee and why one becomes a refugee. The song also express the resilient woman who rises to claim her power and identity back by stating “No Longer A Refugee.”

If I Give Your Name

by Pat Humphfries and Sandy Opatow arr. by Leora Zimmer

Guitar: Janie Womack
Soloists: Kim H., Lucy T., Cathy N., Julie L.

Written after September 11, this song brings listeners to the awareness of the invisible undocumented men and women who worked in the Twin Towers day in and day out and also died that terrible day.

Section 4: Hope for the Future

For The Mothers

by Betsy Rose arr. and added verses by Joan Szymko

This very slow melodic song acknowledges the suffering and anger of all mothers around the world who have lost children due to starvation, war, and disease.

Soundbite From Beijing: We Are Rising Up

by Ysaye M. Barnwell

Ysaye Barnwell was inspired to write this piece after attending the 1995 United Nations women's conference in China. This very powerful, unifying chant calls women all around the world to action to demand change in their countries.

Prayer for The Warriors:

"Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya"

by Sophia and Heather Seacord, arr. by Joan Szymko
Guitar: Janie Womack Mandolin: Henry Koretzky
Dancer:: Rajat Kaur Thukral from India

This Sanskrit mantra prays that the warriors themselves can find peace within so that the healing of the earth can begin.

Thoughts on the Future

Eun Young Won from Korea

Click here to read these reflections.

We Rise Again

by Leon Dubinsky, arr. by Lydia Adams
Sololist: Adele J.

This closing number reminds each of us that there is a part of us that will live on in our children and in generations that follow.

Archival Material

These documents require the free softare, Adobe Reader. If you can't open them, click here.

Buy an ad in our program book: Link to order form

Print publicity

Full-size flyer

"Insert"-size flyer: (black & white) Front and Back

Email Links:
Report problems with this site
Request info