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Alchemy of the Soul

An African-centered Education


Joyce Piert

It started with a dream, a dream in the night that challenged the dream of the author’s life. That dream, which evolved through her personal experiences, was to start an African-centered school. The dream in the night ignited the journey that led to this book, which was to discover answers to critical questions such as: What is an African-centered education model? How do former students perceive this experience? And can, or even should, this educational model be effectively adopted in traditional public schools? Joyce Piert offers this book as a critical resource to parents, educators, potential teachers, community leaders, and policymakers who are seriously pondering the question of how to provide all students with a holistic educational experience. In Alchemy of the Soul, the vibrant voices of African American young adults share their stories in robust and candid narratives of their educational experiences at an African-centered school.
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Chapter 7. Holding the Treasure to the Light



It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse, depending on whether we become better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are. (Coelho & Clarke, 1988/1993, p. 106)

In The Alchemist (Coelho & Clarke, 1988/1993), Santiago has to travel across the desert in a huge caravan to reach Egypt. While in the desert, he decides to stop talking and listen. He learns to hear the language of the desert. It was not the words or conversations with those around him in which he gained his greatest insights, but it was in the stars at night, or the sun during the day, but mostly he learned volumes in the voice of the desert. The desert spoke to him in the silence. Likewise, the voices of these young people are the gems of wisdom that are speaking volumes now. In this chapter, I let their voices reveal the experiences of this educational model.

I must remind you that the collective of families that created the Faizah Shule in the mid-­1970s was influenced by the Black Nationalist and Pan-­Africanist movements of that time. Joining the CIBI, which operated as a unifying organization for IBIs throughout America, the staff at the Faizah Shule helped to...

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