LET’S LEARN! The World as Classroom | Lloyd International Honors College

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LET’S LEARN! The World as Classroom

A global community-engaged educational project of Lloyd International Honors College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in collaboration with the East Side Institute and co-sponsored by Phi Kappa Phi.

Everyone has something to teach; everyone has something to learn. This is what we do as  human beings: teach-learn. Come one, come all. In this spirit, Let’s Learn! The World as Classroom is designed for people from all walks of life all over the world to share and create knowledge and culture together. A free and volunteer-based community of teacher-learners, Let’s Learn! is organized and self-generated through the goodwill of artists-scientists-poets-gardeners-cooks-musicians-doctors-nurses-counselors—all of us. No grades, just growin’. Click on link below for class and workshop schedule:


Let’s Learn!—through Zoom, What’s App, and other online platforms, along with in-person events when appropriate—organizes classes, seminars, conversations, story-telling gatherings, poetry and song sharing events, performances and playful participatory workshops. These offerings vary in content, length, and form.  Some are one-time events, others resemble courses, still others may expand in different directions for various lengths of time and develop into new structures. Whatever the form and content of its learning experiences, Let’s Learn! crosses academic, national, and cultural borders, blurring disciplinary boundaries and the distinctions between experts and non-experts. It brings world-class scholars, teachers, and researchers in the natural and social sciences, the arts and humanities, elders, healers, and specialists of all kinds together with all interested persons to share their local and global knowledges, cultures, histories, and emotions.
Let’s Learn! breaks new ground in a number of ways: 1) all its offerings are free and open to all who want to attend anywhere in the world where there is access to the internet; 2) teachers share their knowledge, skills, and experience for the joy of sharing; 3) there are no grades; people participate in courses, workshops and other events out of curiosity and a desire to have fun and expand their horizons; and, 4) the sharing of knowledge, skills, and experiences is dialogic and participatory. Its fluid faculty includes internationally renowned academics and professional artists, along with teachers with non-academic cultural skills and historic knowledges to share—a mix that expands the learning experience and deepens its impact.
Let’s Learn!, while affiliated with Lloyd International Honors College, whose motto is “Play, Experiment, Perform!,” along with other established educational and training institutions that may wish to collaborate, affiliate, or support it, is primarily dependent on its teacher-learners for its existence, development, and growth.  This self-organizing aspect of its activity is an important part of what makes Let’s Learn! innovative, creative, democratic, and developmental for all who engage in co-creating it.

QUESTIONS? Project Manager, Dan Friedman, Ph.D. (danfriedmannyc@gmail.com)

Logo designed by Pei Ying

View the Let’s Learn! playlist to watch recordings of previous workshops and classes!


Omar H. Ali, Ph.D. - The Global African DiasporaOmar H. Ali, Ph.D. (U.S.A.) Dean of Lloyd International Honors College and Professor of Global and Comparative African Diaspora History. A graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, he received his Ph.D. in History from Columbia University and has been a Fulbright Professor of History and Anthropology at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, and a Library Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. He also holds an appointment in the French Ministry of Education as Inspector of History and Geography for the International Baccalaureate and has served on the board of directors of IndependentVoting.org, the Cone Health Foundation, and the All Stars Project. At UNC Greensboro he regularly co-teaches a course entitled “How do we know what we know?: Power, Epistemology, and Methodology” with Professor of Chemistry Nadja Cech, on whose Medicinal Chemistry Collaborative he serves as a Research Associate. His interest in history, philosophy, and performance goes back to the early 1990s. He performed on the Castillo Theatre stage and the streets of New York and now infuses play, performance, improvisation, history and practical philosophy into the Honors College and in his own classes.  Locally, in Greensboro, he directed the community-based initiative Community Play!/All Stars Alliance–free cultural events, classes, and workshops in the city’s poor and working-class communities that support learning and development through performance and play.


Mark Balsam, M.A. (U.S.A) lives in New York City, where he was born and raised. In the late 1970’s he was attracted to the therapeutic approaches that were being developed called Social Therapy. For 10 years he had been working in a psychiatric hospital in NY and was frustrated with the revolving door of patients in and out. There was no real development happening. He holds an MA in Counseling from NYU and was trained as a Social Therapist and worked in the mental health field most of his professional life. He used his training to help create environments where people, including himself, are supported to grow and develop. A longtime independent political activist, for the last 10 years he worked part time at the All Stars Project while volunteering to help build and expandUX”, a free school for adults, under the leadership of developmental psychologist and educator Dr. Lenora Fulani and theater historian, director, and playwright Dr. Dan Friedman.


Institute Associate - East Side InstituteJorge Burciaga-Montoya, M.Ed. (MEXICO) is Professor of Pedagogy and Community Development at the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional del Estado de Chihuahua (UPNECH) in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, where he lives. Jorge has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education and a Masters in Community Education, also has the training in Social Therapy by the East Side Institute of New York. He has more than 20 years of experience working with NGO’s. He is a founding member of the Fred Newman Center for Social Therapy in Ciudad Juárez where the practice of Social Therapy is taking place with different groups, such as students, teachers, young people, parents, and NGO members in order to build community in different ways of also developing personal growth. In 2017 Performing Communities the Esperanza Coalition was born on the US-Mexico Border, with the collaboration of the Institute of Improvisation and Social Action (ImprovISA) based in El Paso Texas, Jorge participated in this process as a founding member. Since 2020 has participated in the Global Play Brigade international movement to promote play as a powerful tool to face pandemic times.


Home | AfronegroblackMonica Carrillo Zegarra, M.F.A., (PERU) is an Afro-Peruvian writer, performer, and human rights advocate,  founder and former director of LUNDU Center for Afro Peruvian Studies and Advancement (http://lundu.org/)  In the artistic world, Carrillo goes by the name “Oru.”  She creates poetry that mixes afro-beat, hip-hop, and Afro Peruvian music to bring attention to the ongoing effects of racism and sexism. Her productions “Unicroma” and “Poetics of Reparation”  included a CD, a book and a live performance with musicians and dancers. As a songwriter and performer, she has been featured in the GRAMMY ®, Latin GRAMMY ® and Independent  Music Award’s winner album “El Orisha de la Rosa. ”  She holds a M.F.A in Performance Media and Interactive Arts from Brooklyn College, a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from The National University of San Marcos (Peru), a master’s degree in Political Journalism and Cultural Analysis from The University of Antonio Ruiz Montoya (Peru),  and a specialization in International Law and in Human Rights from Oxford University, (England). Carrillo has lectured at Harvard and Columbia, among other universities  and her work on issues of sexuality, gender, philosophy and the African diaspora have been included in United Nations and other publications.  Her latest book, Faces of Violence, Faces of Power explores the intersection of racism and sexism in the lives of Afro-Peruvian women. She has led over twenty-five human rights projects to improve the quality of life for people in her community. One project included the building of 250 houses for people left homeless after a severe earthquake in Peru.  Carrillo also led the first successful lawsuit against the use of black-face on Peruvian television – a case which had national and international precedents.  She led a separate strategy which resulted in changes to Peruvian law and the official recognition that racist insults are a type of sociological violence. Carrillo delivered the keynote in the NASDAQ ® Closing Bell ceremony for the International Day of Women and has been recognized as a global leader by Google Earth, and by The Elders, an organization founded by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. She has been featured on programs on PBS, CNN, Univision, MTV Europe. Carrillo is the former community organizer of the Queens Museum and the current Regional Director of Latin America of a philanthropic organization that supports grassroots movements, food sovereignty, alternative economies and climate justice.


Nadja Cech, Ph.D. (U.S.A.) is an analytical chemist who leads an National Institutes of Heath-funded natural products medicinal chemistry lab as Distinguished Sullivan Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Cech serves on the Honors Council—the curriculum advisory board of Lloyd International Honors College at UNC Greensboro—and has collaborated with Omar Ali on a range of projects in which they have infused play and improvisation. Together they co-teach a class entitled “How do we know what we know?: Power, Epistemology, and Methodology,” which produced “The Underground Railroad Tree” multidisciplinary art exhibit, produced the “Yes, and Café” podcast, and have led performative workshops or offered presentations that bridge the sciences and humanities, including for the National Humanities Center. A recipient of numerous scientific research and teaching awards, Nadja also leads a community garden involving forty families and members of the broader community.


Rita Ezenwa-Okoro, M.A. (NIGERIA) is a Creative Culturist, Performance Activist and Communications Expert with over 16 years’ experience. She’s the Founder of Street Project Foundation, ROC Strategic Communications and co-founder of Black Soup Media and Ideas Cache. With the support of development partners such as the United States Consulate, OXFAM, World Connect, Global Play Brigade and Lagos State Government, Rita has directly empowered over two thousand youths and counting, using Creative and Performing Arts tools to facilitate youth enterprise development, internship and mentorship opportunities including, social justice advocacy and mental health wellness. These have been achieved through projects like the Creative Youth Boot Camp, Digital Amazons, Street University, Talent Hub and Youth Psycho-social Support Initiatives, which have helped to deepen the impact of youth development in Nigeria. Rita is a Mandela Washington Fellow, Global Fellow of the International Society of the Performing Arts (ISPA), recipient of the Lagos State Award of Excellence in Youth and Social Development, the Lagos State Award of Excellence in Entrepreneurship Development, NELIS Next Generation Leaders Award and the Champion of Change Award. Rita has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Creative Arts from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. A Master’s degree in media and Communications from the School of Media and Communications, Pan-Atlantic University, Nigeria, a Certificate in Civic Leadership from Tulane University, New Orleans, USA and a graduate of the International Class on Social Therapeutics from East Side Institute, New York, USA.


Dan Friedman, Ph.D. (U.S.A.) is in addition to being the project manager of Let’s Learn! Dr. Friedman is on the faculty of the East Side Institute, an independent grassroots research and training center that focuses on innovative approaches to social and cultural change. He is the managing producer of the Institute’s podcast, “All Power to the Developing,” and artistic director of its Fred Newman Project which is creating a series of videos on the philosophical and political contributions of Institute co-founder, Fred Newman.  Friedman is the author of Performance Activism: Precursors and Pioneers (Palgrave, 2021), the first book-length study of the international performance activist movement.  He is also the author or co-author of 17 plays and the Artistic Director Emeritus of the Castillo Theatre in New York City, which produced progressive, community-based political plays for 30 years.  Many of Friedman’s writings can be accessed at www.danfriedmannyc.org..


Nicholas Gross, Ph.D. (U.S.A.) earned his doctorate in physics from Boston University and has been working on a variety of science education projects for over two decades. Dr. Gross is recognized as an expert in the development and delivery of interactive and engaging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education programs for a wide range of audiences, including: public audiences, undergraduates and graduate students in specialized workshops, and in teacher professional development. Dr. Gross applies improvisational approaches to help build inclusive learning communities that tackle learning challenging together.



Raquel Holmes, Ph.D. (U.S.A.) is a computational cell biologist by training. Founder of improvscience, her programs help scientists build inclusive work environments, communicate with others and realize their potential. Dr. Holmes is a pioneer in bringing performance and play to scientific and technical communities. She is a Harvard Medical and Tufts University trained scientist, an author and the founder of the international arts, humanities and STEM conference: Cultivating Ensembles.  Her hallmark is helping leaders in academia, national laboratories and corporate settings to build multi-racial, developmental and inclusive environments. First introduced to performance through grassroots political organizing, Holmes continues to explore the politics of inclusion in STEM and the world. She is passionate about bringing science to everyone and worked with the All Stars Project’s UX to bring STEM to youth and adults from poor communities. Her most recent innovation, Uncomfortable Independent Conversations, is a series that brings people together from diverse backgrounds to create conversations that transform their experience of race and class in America.


Sky Kihuwa-Mani (U.S.A.) is a first-year medical student at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a recent graduate of Lloyd International Honors College at UNC Greensboro where she majored in Biology. A musician, a language-learner, and a collaborator, she served on a panel representing UNC Greensboro at the International Performing The World conference in 2020, served on the advisory committee for the “forums on race and racism in American history” at UNC Greensboro, and have participated in virtual collaborative-growing spaces with many from the East Side Institute over the last year.



Newsletter #6 — PTW 2018 – Performing the WorldPowpee Lee (TAIWAN) has been a community and political organizer in Taiwan for much of his adult life.  He served as the director of the Ludi Community University in Taipei for 20 years. Most of the students at Ludi are working class adults.  It is an environment that encourages learners to transform their learning activity from individual growth into community development by means of “anybody could teach anybody.” Ludi facilitates an environment in which the learners can learn to teach, and learn from teaching at the same time. We see it as an activity of individual liberation and creating a new culture within social change.  Since 2020 Lee transferred from director of the school to the  Chair of the Ludi Community Meeting.


Jaime (Jim) MartinezJim Martinez, Ph.D. (U.S.A.) is an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at the New York Institute of Technology. He has ten years of experience as an online teacher educator, and his research interests include interdisciplinary collaboration and performance-based approaches to human development and learning. He is the Co-Chair of Cultivating Ensembles, a group that creates academic conferences and virtual events with diverse scholars and practitioners at the intersection of the arts and sciences. His most recent collaborations involve architectural design, data modeling, and visualization in community-based pre-disaster planning, development, and response initiatives. Dr. Martinez earned a Ph.D. in Urban Education and a certificate in Interactive Pedagogy in 2009 from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is a permanently licensed New York City teacher and holds an undergraduate degree in computer science. Before teaching, Dr. Martinez was a managing director in an internet security start-up and a corporate information technology manager for 16 years. He has served on the All-Stars Project board of directors, a national non-profit youth development program, where he has been a volunteer and financial contributor for over 25 years. He is also an East Side Institute Associate and a graduate of the Institute’s International Class. He has authored two books and several book chapters using performatory social therapeutic approaches in formal learning settings.


3 "Qazi Abdur Rahman" profiles | LinkedInQazi Abdur Rahman, M.A. (BANGLADESH) had been a school principal from 1987 to 2019 in schools and colleges in rural areas and in the capital city in Bangladesh and in a country in the Middle East. He worked mostly in conventional settings of learning-teaching environment with traditional mind-set of the stake holders where he made efforts to make possible developmental changes by initiating ‘new’ approaches, mobilizing teachers and students and at time risking some personal damage. He loves to devise/create  improv/mind game/situation to challenge anti-developmental comfort jones in order to unleash/generate possibilities/ imagination among students.  He earned MA in English from Jahangirnagar University and M.A. in Education from Dhaka University in Bangladesh. He is a graduate of the East Side Institute’s Social Therapeutic online certificate program. He is now serving as a teacher in a school.


File:Syed Mizanur Rahman (Raju).jpg Syed Rahman, Ph.D. (BANGLADESH) is an Associate Professor of Daffodil International University in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His
present position is Head of the department of General Educational Development at Daffodil International University. He is also the university’s Director of Students’ Affairs, and in that role, has developed different training and skills building tools to develop employability skills. He has created a course called “Art of Living” jointly with Dr. Sabur Khan to develop young people with basic humanitarian qualities; it is attended by 22,000 students each semester. He holds a Ph.D. in the Political Economy of Mass Media. In addition to his university work, Syed has been conducting training and psychosocial support for women and children affected by poverty, catastrophic cyclones, and other disasters for the last 20 years. Syed is also very much attached with East Side Institute after graduation from there 13 years back.  He is also a theatre director and co-founder of Theatre for Education, Research and Education ( TREE Foundation ).


Karen RiedelKaren Riedel, Ph.D. (U.S.A.)  obtained Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University, Master of Science degree at University of Michigan, and PhD from Graduate Center CUNY in Speech Science. She moved to New York City from Ohio in the late 1960’s. Dr. Riedel joined the staff of Speech-Language Department at Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in early 1970’s. She had an over forty-year career with that department, rising from staff speech pathologist to Director of Speech -Language Pathology in 2010. Dr. Riedel oversaw the Speech-Language Pathology Department’s diverse programs, including pediatric and adult inpatient and outpatient  neurogenic communication disorders units, and the communication and swallowing programs at Tisch  Hospital (now NYU Langone Health Centers).  The outpatient services included the Swallowing Disorders Center of NYULMC, the Cochlear Implant Center and the SLP services of the Voice Center NYU.  She retired from Rusk Rehabilitation in 2014.  Her major interest has always been the nature and impact of human communication. Formerly on the Faculty, Associate Clinical Professor (Rehabilitation Division), School of Medicine New York University Langone Medical Center, Dr. Riedel was an adjunct instructor at New York University (Steinhardt School) Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department until 2020.  She has also taught for the School of Medicine, New York University Langone Medical Center and Hunter College.  She has authored several articles and chapters. After retirement, she has devoted herself to volunteering at two programs, the Central Park Zoo educational section, and All Starts Project’s various programs, the house staff of the Castillo Theatre and the adult educational program (UX).  She is on the leadership team of the All Stars Project.


Alex Sutherland (SOUTH AFRICA) is currently arts-educator-activist with the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in Cape Town and a Research Affiliate at the University of Cape Town. From 2001 – 2017 she was a lecturer and Associate Professor in Applied Theatre at Rhodes University.  She is passionate about devising theatre in unlikely spaces and has facilitated dozens of original theatre pieces with youth from a street children’s shelter, men in prison, mental health care users in a psychiatric hospital, and young people from poor communities in Cape Town. Her current work involves developing arts-based pedagogies for political education with grass roots movements and organizations, supporting these movements to incorporate the arts in campaigns, education and activism, and facilitating access to the arts for political expression with young people. Her published research has focused on gender and theatre in prisons, the political possibilities of theatre spaces in rigid institutions such as psychiatric hospitals, and the development of politically engaged participatory arts methodologies with youth.


Presenters - PPLG - Play Perform Learn GrowEsben Wilstrup (DENMARK) is a Danish performance activist, psychologist and community-builder based in Copenhagen. As consultant and educator he helps professionals to create communities with young people that boost development, inclusion, resilience and power. In 2015, he co-founded and co-led www.Efterskolen-Epos.dk – a boarding school in Denmark where students aged 15-17 learn the mandatory state curriculum but through play, community and wonder. In 2018 and 2019 he co-organized www.PPLG.org – an international conference for performance activists. A long-time student and now associate of the East Side Institute, he has worked to promote the power of play, community and development through his work as a consultant for the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Ministry of Education.