“Singing in Spanish has greatly improved their comfort and knowledge of the Guatemalan culture and we appreciate Jose’s extra education about the geography and lifestyle.” 

-Melody McGarahan, Music teacher at Avery’s Creek Elementary (in-relation to LEAF International Guatemala teaching her class)


Cultural competency is an underlying element and evaluation tool used in LEAF International programming.  According to the National Education Association (NEA), cultural competency is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families.

This is an overview of cultural competency in the world of LEAF International:

Rwanda: Culture Keeper David Kwizera creating a LEAF Intore Culture Center to teach youth traditional Rwandan drum & dance

Haiti: Partners Prosjekt Haiti creating a platform to hire youth who were once students to be teachers of their traditions.

Costa Rica: Culture keepers Alexis Rodriguez & Luis Salazar perform & present at the Festival de Arte Dule in Panama, which highlighted the cultural identity of the indigenous peoples of Panama.

Guatemala: Utilizing their brand new music room to create a CD that gives global citizens a musical perspective of traditional Guatemalan songs & instruments.

Mexico: Creating community performances using indigenous Mayan instruments & narrated languages to help transmit traditions, customs and cultural riches throughout the generations

Tanzania: Culture keeper Fredy Nganga leading the Arusha Diversity Festival which was curated to foster an awareness and appreciation between artists from different cultural backgrounds through a mixture of paintings and performing arts.

New Orleans: Partners Burial Beer Co launched Shallow Water – a beer dedicated to raising awareness about the many cultures of New Orleans

Ivory Coast: Even though there is no formal center to teach at, culture keeper Dramane Dembele is extremely committed, and teaches at a local orphanage every week to ensure Cote’ Ivorian youth are learning the sacred drum rhythms of west Africa

Bequia: The original members of the steel pan program are now serving as mentors to new students

Believing that cultural competency provide a wealth of intangible benefits that are crucial for a healthy and vibrant world, LEAF International aligns with the UN System Task Team for the post-2015 UN Development Agenda, who assert that cultural expression provides communities “with greater social inclusiveness and rootedness, resilience, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship for individuals and communities, and the use of local resources, skills, and knowledge.”