Music Is Powerful

“I say I survived for a reason: to tell my story. I believe that…Music is powerful. It is the only thing that can speak into your mind, your heart and your soul without your permission.”
– Emmanuel Jal

The Second Sudanese Civil War from 1983 to 2005 was one of the longest and bloodiest civil wars on record, yet it barely registered in Western media. The war resulted in the deaths of roughly two million people and the repeated displacement of over four million others in southern Sudan alone, constituting one of history’s largest refugee crises. Among the atrocities committed during the war were slavery, rapes, mutilations, mass killings, and the forced enlistment of children as soldiers by all sides.

Emmanuel Jal was one such child soldier. Born in what is now South Sudan, Jal was a young child when the civil war broke out. After his father joined the rebel army (SPLA) and his mother was killed by loyalist soldiers, Jal joined the thousands of Sudanese children travelling to Ethiopia, hoping to escape the conflict and find education and opportunity. Along the way, however, many of the children, Jal included, were forcibly recruited by the SPLA and taken to military training camps where they were taught to kill, in Jal’s words, “mercilessly and efficiently.”

For the next several years Jal and his comrades fought with the SPLA, first in Ethiopia and then back in Sudan, until the fighting and deprivations became unbearable. Jal and some of his friends ran away, and for three months they were constantly on the move, stealing food and dodging roving patrols. Eventually Jal met a British aid worker who adopted him and smuggled him to Kenya, where he attended school. It was in the slums of Nairobi that Jal became a community activist. He also discovered hip-hop and the power of the spoken word; singing and rapping became a form of therapy to ease the pain of his experiences, and his life’s course was set. Over time Jal developed a unique form of hip-hop, seemingly conventional in form but layered with African beats and sung/chanted over African-inspired choruses.

Unlike many of his American counterparts, Jal sees hip-hop as a powerful vehicle to lobby for social justice and political change in a positive manner, rather than as a method of pursuing street credibility. His raps and spoken word pieces emphasize unity and common humanity as motivators for young people and weapons in the fight against the scourges of ethnic and religious divisions, such as those that plague his homeland. This hopeful outlook, combined with his many humanitarian activities, dovetails neatly with the goals of UC San Diego’s Eleanor Roosevelt College, and marks Jal as a suitably inspirational figure to help celebrate the College’s 30th Anniversary.

His dynamic performance is by turns thought-provoking and uplifting, at times almost somber, but also leavened with humor and, yes, with fun. As Jal himself puts it, “Life without fun is no life at all,” a remarkable perspective from one who has suffered much but has refused to give in to bitterness or cynicism.

Watch From War Child to Global Citizen with Emmanuel Jal.

We Are CSE

From automated programming to giving computers the ability to see and be better work partners to improving healthcare and securing your internet use, discover the diversity of research and people who are the UC San Diego Department of Computer Science and Engineering with the new series – We Are CSE.

Browse more programs in We Are CSE.

East Meets West: The Tibetan Medicine Conference on Mind-Body Health

8232Highlights of this conference feature medical doctors and other Western researchers trained in allopathic medicine – as in treating diseases with drugs or surgery – who now include healing, whole-systems therapies that have been practiced in Tibet for centuries. Speakers from Harvard, the University of California and other respected institutions engage with Tibetan practitioners to map the benefits of traditional therapies and explore research collaborations that will lead to evidence-based conclusions on the value of Tibetan medicine.

Watch the Series: Tibetan Medicine Conference on Mind-Body Health 2017

Lessons Learned in a Career of Schizophrenia Research

8232Michael Green, neuroscientist and professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA, has been fascinated with the human brain, behavior and mental illness since his undergraduate days. In particular, his research focuses on schizophrenia, a chronic brain disorder that affects about 1 percent of the population.

In this UCLA Faculty Research Lecture, he describes how his lab uses discoveries in psychology and social neuroscience about normal brain functioning to inform his schizophrenia research. And now, Green and his colleagues are moving into new territory, studying the causes of social isolation among people who do not have schizophrenia.

You’ll learn about the tools they use such as functional MRI, that measures and maps brain activity, and EEG, that detects electrical activity in the brain, and how they do research to answer questions about social isolation in the general public.

Watch The Human Social Brain: How It Works and How It Goes Awry in Schizophrenia and the General Population

Women Waging Peace are Stronger Together!

8232Do you think women might have something to say about peace? Watch this and you’ll see why the answer is most assuredly yes! Celebrate the launch of the Women Waging Peace Network at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. Emcee Swanee Hunt, the former US Ambassador to Austria, leads a panel of peacemakers marking the success of the more than a thousand women from around the world. Learn how women have joined together to serve as negotiators, experts, advocates, policymakers, and other roles crucially needed in peace processes. There’s a whole lot of wisdom on offer here.

Watch Stronger Together: Women Waging Peace – The Peace exChange