That’s a Wrap on the 2023 MFS SquashBusters Derby!

More than a hundred colts and fillies saddled up for the 17th annual running of the MFS SquashBusters Derby, but the winner was a veteran warhorse.  At the end of three days of fierce competition and even fiercer camaraderie, it was founder and retiring CEO Greg Zaff who earned all the roses.  “I gave everything I have to this program for nearly 30 years.  All my past competitive drive from the squash court I channeled into building SquashBusters, basing it all on love and the belief that every kid deserves a chance,” he reflected in a moving speech during Saturday evening’s concluding celebration.

Like the actual Kentucky Derby, for which the annual SquashBusters competition is named, the stars turned out for Zaff’s final Derby as Race Director.  Elite Pros who have supported the Derby from the beginning were on hand, like Chris Walker, Martin Heath, Gary Waite and Jonathon Power. Former World No. 1’s David Palmer, John White and Thierry Lincou said yes to the weekend in a heartbeat, while more recent friends Arthur Gaskin, Clinton Leeuw, Kush Kumar, Hameed Ahmed and Justin Singh filled out the impressive pro field. Dan Sharplin came back to Boston from Chattanooga and brought first-timer and former South African star Rodney Durbach with him.

The record-setting weekend raised $1.56m and featured scores of heroes, but Sandy Tierney once again topped the table on the individual front, raising over $100,000 and earning his fifth Secretariat Award.  The themes of continuity and transition permeated the weekend, as both Tierney and Scott DeSantis, Captain of 2023 Champions Racqueteers, talked about the passion that is ignited by being together for the Derby weekend and the opportunity for the younger generation of supporters to take the reins.

The 2023 Derby featured eight teams of singles and doubles players, but both Racqueteers and Churchill Downey, captained by Jeff Harper and Sam Kaplan, sprinted out of the gate from the opening bell.  Both finalists in 2022, the two teams renewed their rivalry in 2023 and once again wound up head-to-head in the lightening round match to determine the winner.  After all 8 singles players had competed the match was still tied. Victory or defeat rested on the shoulders of the pros. At the wire, Arthur Gaskin nosed out North America’s greatest-ever player Power 3-1 to take the race. The victorious Racqueteers team included Gaskin, DeSantis, Connor Stoltz, Mike Semprucci, Yvan Bodart, Dan Latimore, Charlie Humber, Peter Kelly (a sub for injured Jon Hyett), Chandler Willet, Amrit Kanwal, and Martin Heath.

Major corporate support for the 2023 Derby came once again from Title Sponsor MFS Investments, Diamond Sponsors Foxfield, Intercontinental Real Estate , Intex , Westfield Capital Management, Gold Sponsors Archer Venture Capital, Berkshire Partners, Brown Brothers Harriman, Civic Financial, Loomis, Sayles & Co., William O’Neil + Co., and many others. Please visit our Derby Website for a full list.

The afternoon wrapped up with remarks from SQB alum, Vanel Joseph. He spoke about how he was originally attracted to SQB because he wanted to see “where his best friend was going every day after school.” But the program grew into a second home for him and helped him secure a place at Northeastern University where he now is studying health sciences with the goal of becoming an oral surgeon.


The celebration continued at the home of Board Member and Salubrious co-captains Simone and Jack Winston. We are grateful to them for opening their home for a second straight year. SquashBusters senior Tracy Nguyen spoke movingly about how SQB had also become a second home for her, how the program sustained her through COVID and helped her to create life-long friends. The evening concluded with Zaff’s reflections on 27 years leading SQB and acknowledged all the staff who have made this incredible program possible, also tipping his hat to his longtime friend and co-race director John Nimick. The evening’s highlights also included Zaff’s introduction by the three SquashBusters Program Directors, Vicky Flamenco, Mikhail Darlington, and Rodney Galvao, who are all alumni of the program. Each shared a personal anecdote about their days with Greg when they were students and he was their coach, reminding everyone of the complete circle their careers represent, and the power of squash, education, and love to change the world.


And be sure to click below to see more pictures of the weekend’s festivities.

Thursday Doubles – pw: ccfa45

Friday Doubles– pw: ccfa45

Saturday Singles– pw: ccfa45

Junior Stakes, Saturday Singles, Saturday Celebration – no pw required


Another Successful Year for SQB Boston

Seniors Are College Bound!

For the fifth time in as many years SquashBusters is proud to announce that all of the graduating senior class will be enrolling in college. We are extremely proud of all the hard work they have done and are excited to see them take this next step.

The list of schools below reflects the drive and determination that this special group of students has brought to the classroom and to the squash courts over their years in the program. From the time they entered in seventh grade these students were exposed to college campuses through college visits and tournaments. Through weekly academic sessions and various workshops they were provided with critical thinking tools that will help them tackle any problem that may arise on their academic journey. And SquashBusters’ focus on community service and health has prepared them to be highly engaged members of their community and beyond.

As seniors, students were able to capitalize on all that hard work and make higher education a reality. With the help of Mikhail Darlington, Manager or Post-Secondary Access and Success, and Sally Rowland, Program Associate, and the support of their college mentors, seniors persevered through the extensive college application process with great success. They were tasked with writing a compelling personal statement, formulating balanced and challenging lists of schools, and filling out countless hours of application and verification forms. But the results were worth the hard work – in addition to the acceptances, an average of 85% of the cost of attendance is covered by grants of scholarships.

“This class was a very special class. Their willingness to go the extra mile when they had so much going on in their academic and personal lives speaks volumes” said Mikhail. “No matter what challenge arose, they were always ready to fight through it. And I think that will reflect the amazing people they will become”.

We are proud to say that next year the class of 2019 will be attending the following schools:

Bunker Hill Community College
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
Wesleyan University
Bridgewater State University
Connecticut College
Boston University
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
Northeastern University
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
UMass – Amherst
Foundation Year at Northeastern University
UMass – Boston
Becker College
Tufts University
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Amherst College

Once they graduate, however, their involvement with SquashBusters does not end. SQB recognizes that a successful graduate is one that is able enter society with all the skills necessary to thrive. Corey Schafer, Director of College and Alumni Success, remains in regular contact with each college-enrolled alum. She assists them in navigating the life-altering transition to college and helps them access resources they need to complete their journey. This year we have eleven graduates who have completed that journey and are off to start a new one as they enter their careers.

Below are the SQB alumni who graduated from college this year:

Boston University
Boston College
Northeastern University
Norwich University
St. Lawrence University
Simmons College
Bentley University
Bates College
Suffolk University
Northeastern University
Emmanuel College
Simmons College
Clark University
UMass – Amherst
Mass Bay Community College
Roger Williams University
Northeastern University
Northeastern University
UMass – Boston
UMass – Boston
Lasell College
Bunker Hill Community College
Providence College

Continuing their commitment to education that they developed early on at SquashBusters, the following alumni will enroll in graduate school this fall:

Simmons College, Master of Nursing
Clark University, Master of Business Administration
MA College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy
Brown University, Masters of American Studies
Harvard University, School of Law

We are so proud of all our graduates and can’t wait to hear about the next stage of their journeys.

A Year of Great Squash!

The SquashBusters Boston squash program continued to improve and experience success during the 2018-2019 program year.  In addition to internal squash practices and challenge matches, SQB Boston students participated in 64 external competitions – 42 matches and 22 tournaments.  These opportunities brought students to new cities such as New York and Washington DC, and to colleges and universities such as Williams, Amherst, Wesleyan, and Yale.  High school students received an average of 8 competitive opportunities during the program year, and produced impressive results.

In their second year representing Boston Public Schools, SQB Boston’s varsity teams experienced banner seasons.  The girls and boys went 14-3 and 16-2 respectively, records which included wins over schools such as Milton Academy, Episcopal High School, Shipley School, Pomfret School, and Loomis Chaffee School.  At the High School National Championships in Hartford, CT, the boys took home top-honors in Division 4 while the girls moved up a division and finished fifth in Division 3.  Both results were marked improvements over the previous year.

A month later, teams traveled to Yale University with 90 students for Urban Team Nationals.  Strong results continued, as SquashBusters’ teams won 3 separate divisions, including the A-Division for high school girls.

Helping fuel the improvement in skill-level were the Elite Training Squad and Squash Mentors Program.  The Elite Training Squad is a group of 20 SQB Boston students who participate weekly in an intense and focused practice early on Saturday mornings, run by volunteers Geoff and Bryan Keating.  Additionally, 18 students participated in the squash mentors program, which paired our most driven players with volunteers from the Boston area who provided them with one-on-one coaching and mentoring.  A huge thank you to Geoff, Bryan, and all of our squash mentors for making these programs possible!

Lastly, the SQB-Boston squash program is proud to be sending four graduates to play varsity college squash next season.  We wish Angela (Connecticut College), Beverly (Tufts University), Josiah (Wesleyan University), and Kaetu (Amherst College) all the best in the next phase of their squash careers!

New Balance & SQB: Home & Away

What is is like work at one the world’s premiere athletic apparel manufacturers? SQB Boston students got a chance to find out.

New Balance is an incredible partner to SQB in ways that go far beyond financial support. This past spring, SquashBusters had the opportunity to continue to deepen that partnership through the New Balance & SQB: Home & Away Experience. This pilot initiative took place on two different days. First, 20 SQB Boston Seniors went to New Balance HQ for career exploration and a site visit (Away). A month later, a team of New Balance associates came to SQB Boston (Home) and participated in an “SQB afternoon” led entirely by the seniors.

The SQB@New Balance Career Exploration was an opportunity for our students to gain exposure to diverse career paths and professional development skills and to network with New Balance associates.  The visit involved a tour of HQ, two panel discussions, Q&A, and concluded with lunch. The first group of panelists focused on interview prep and how to market yourself professionally, while the second group explored different departments and positions offered at New Balance. The panelists were comprised of a diverse team of New Balance associates who were able to talk to the students about their relevant departments, roles, and their own professional development stories.

New Balance@SQB took place a few weeks later, when a team of New Balance associates visited SquashBusters during programming hours. The visit was led entirely by Boston seniors, as a way for the New Balance staff to get a better understanding of the program from the student perspective. The visit included a student-led tour of the facility, a squash exhibition match between former world #1 squash player, Thierry Lincou, and SQB Squash Coach, Guy Davidson, and activities both on and off court that New Balance associates and SquashBusters seniors competed in together.

We look forward to continuing to deepen our partnership in the coming program year and beyond.

Want more SQB news?

Read the 2019 Lawrence year-end newsletter.

Read the 2019 Providence year-end newsletter.

2019 SquashBusters MFS Derby sets another record!

Evening speakers and SQB Seniors, Josiah Bennett and Gerardo Garcia

The 13th running of the MFS SquashBusters Derby in Boston over the first weekend in May established several new benchmarks for the urban squash program’s most important event of the year.  Foremost was a record-setting fundraising total of $1.47 million, generated by more than 100 amateur player/fundraisers and major corporate support from lead Title sponsor MFS Investments, Diamond sponsor Westfield Capital Management and Gold sponsors Brown Brothers Harriman, Loomis, Sayles, & Co., Intercontinental Real Estate and William O’Neil + Co.

The Derby also ushered in a new champion as the retirement of perennial champ Wallbanger opened the gates for captain Tucker Hamlin’s True Blue to take the 2019 title.  Anchored in doubles by past captains Jamie Fagan and Ming Tsai, the rest of the doubles squad included Jesse Lane, Pete McIntire, David Hall, Joe Hegenbart, SquashBusters Executive Director (and double hipster) Greg Zaff and pro Mike Ferreira.  True Blue’s singles roster included Hamlin, Guy Davidson, Greg Ho, Cameron Rahbar, Todd Manley and Todd Bourell, but it was Wael El Hindi who truly earned the roses for True Blue as the charismatic Egyptian star devastated the hopes and dreams of newcomers Bob’s Cats in the Derby final by slotting an overhead nick on Todd Harrity, fellow elite pro and leader of the all-Princeton team, to win the match 15-14.

Winners of the 2019 MFS SquashBusters Derby, True Blue

While the on court theatrics were world class, especially with elite stars David Palmer, Campbell Grayson, Clinton Leeuw, Nick Taylor, Amanda and Sabrina Sobhy, Timmy Brownell, Mike Ferreira, Yvain Badan, Jeff Stanley, Gary Waite, Chris Walker, John Roberts and Mark Talbott all joining in, the effort of some individual fundraisers was out of this world.  Founding Derby Chairman and ex-Wallbanger Captain Amrit Kanwal took home the Secretariat Award for top fundraiser with a total over $100,000.  Jamie Fagan was close behind at $75,000, while Will Muggia, Dave Drubner, Sandy Tierney and George Bell all  topped $50,000.

But the real stars of the 2019 Derby were SquashBusters seniors Josiah Bennett and Gerardo Garcia who concluded the Saturday evening speaking program at SquashBusters on the campus of Northeastern University with a powerful set of remarks, trading the podium back and forth as they movingly and humorously relayed their personal stories and the impact of the SquashBusters program to the packed audience.

Junior Stakes players

Special thanks goes to the University Club of Boston for hosting two highly festive days of doubles, Jeannie Blasberg and Dave Drubner as Co-Chairs, John Nimick as Derby Host and development committee member, all the SquashBusters students who played, Simone Winston for once again organizing a successful Junior Stakes segment, Nick Taylor of INFINITUM Squash for organizing the on court component of the Junior Stakes, Ming Tsai for delivering a tasty treat from Blue Dragon for the party on Friday night, and Michael Schlow and Tico for some killer margaritas and tacos at the party on Saturday night.

Thank you to Marliyn Humphries for her excellent photos of the Derby on Friday and Saturday and John Gillooly for his photos of the Junior Stakes on Saturday morning. To see more photos of the events, please visit our Derby and Junior Stakes Flickr albums.

Winter Doesn’t Slow Down SQB

SquashBusters 2019 MFS Derby


Join us at the University Club on May 3rd and SquashBusters on May 4th
to watch some great squash for a great cause.
To learn more or support the event, click HERE.

A Historic Squash Season for SQB Boston

While our teams exhibited strong play throughout the season, it was clear both the boys and girls teams saved their best performances for the biggest competitions in high school and urban squash.

High School Team Championships – In early February SquashBusters traveled to Hartford, CT to compete in the High School Squash Team Championships as the representatives of Boston Public Schools.  There were 8 separate boys’ divisions and 6 separate girls’ divisions comprised of more than 200 teams from across the country, making it the world’s largest squash tournament.  Our strong regular seasons (girls 7-2, boys 8-1) earned our girls team a place in Division 3, and our boys team a high seed in Division 4.

Our girls began the weekend with a convincing 6-1 victory over Blair Academy (NJ). Despite falling 4-3 to two seed Westminster School (CT) the next morning in a tightly contested battle, the team recovered quickly and managed to take a 5-2 decision over Episcopal HS (PA) that evening, putting them in the 5th place match against traditional powerhouse Shipley School (PA).  Our girls eked out an intense 4-3 victory over Shipley, placing them 5th in Division 3 and 37th in the country!

Our boys team started the weekend similarly to the girls – with an impressive 6-1 victory over New Haven Public Schools (CT) on Friday.  A second round matchup with Tower Hill School (DE) proved far more testing.  Tied 3-3, Josiah Bennett pulled out the deciding fourth victory to send the team into the semifinals against Westminster School (GA) on Saturday evening.  Our boys once again edged out a close match, taking a 5-2 decision and securing a spot in the finals against Loomis Chaffee School (CT).  The finals had a different feel, as our boys clinched the victory early, and cruised to a 6-1 victory and a Division 4 championship!

Urban Team Nationals –  Next up, the 16th edition of Urban Team Nationals at Yale University and Choate Rosemary Hall, hosted by the Squash and Education Alliance (SEA). Sixteen SEA member programs and 2 international affiliates comprised 14 separate elementary school, middle school, and high school draws.  SquashBusters sent 18 teams composed of 90 Boston, Lawrence, and Providence students to New Haven for 3 intense and fun-filled days of squash.

Entering the tournament, a SquashBusters team had not won an A-division title at Urban Team Nationals since 2016.  However, both the top Boys and Girls high school teams had hopes of changing that, as the girls team received the top seed and the boys were seeded third in the A-draw.

The boys took a decisive 4-1 decision in the first round against SquashDrive (Oakland, CA) before falling in a 3-2 thriller in the semifinal to eventual champion StreetSquash.  The boys rebounded to take 3rd place with a 3-2 victory over SquashSmarts (Philadelphia, PA) the next day.

The top girls team marched to the finals with a 5-0 first-round win and a 4-1 semifinal victory over CitySquash (NY).  This set them up to play StreetSquash in the finals, and the girls pulled through with a 3-2 victory to clinch SQB’s first A-division title since 2016!

SquashBusters’ other high school teams also experienced significant success.  The high school Girls II team won the A-division consolation, and the Girls III team took the B-division title.  The high school Boys II team won the B-division, and the Boys IV team took third in the C-division.

For the majority of students on SquashBusters’ middle school teams, this past weekend marked their first national tournament.  Still, they competed well against their often more-experienced counterparts.  The top boys and girls teams finished seventh in the Middle School A-division, while the Boys III and Girls III teams both finished third in the Middle School C-division.

Beyond success on the court, all the teams represented SquashBusters incredibly well.  Many other teams and spectators commented on our players’ strong sportsmanship and attitude.  And Joelangie Arias Soto and Marangela James took home the top prizes in the middle school and high school divisions of SEA’s annual academic contest. It has been a season to remember, and one of which our program is exceedingly proud.

SquashBusters Lawrence Gets a Permanent Home

A Schematic Rendering by Stack + Co. of the
New SquashBusters Lawrence at Merrimack College

SquashBusters has entered into a formal partnership with Merrimack College to build a rent/maintenance-free facility on the school’s campus. The 16,000 square foot facility will contain eight squash courts, three classrooms, a family resource and college counseling center, locker rooms and staff offices, and cost approximately $4.75 million. New Balance has committed a $2.5 million lead investment to name the facility.

The benefits to partnering with Merrimack College are numerous. Merrimack has agreed to donate the land free of charge, operate the facility at its expense, and assist SquashBusters with transportation. Additionally, Merrimack students will volunteer daily, SquashBusters staff may take graduate courses at discounted rates, and our qualified students will stand an excellent chance of gaining admission and financial assistance. Read Merrimack’s announcement to their community here.

SquashBusters enjoys similar partnerships with Northeastern in Boston and Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I. Both have enabled the program to serve more students, increase program dosage, host junior tournaments, and build a deeper connection to the community. We look forward to the programmatic, educational, and financial benefits of this partnership for years to come.

SquashBusters Runs the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon Team
Gets Ready for a Training Run with the SQB Team

When the starting gun goes off for the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15, SquashBusters will have a 16-person team of athletes joining the 30,000+ runners on their trek from Hopkinton to Boston – a 26.2 mile journey that began many months and many miles ago.  Eight men and eight women have committed to support SquashBusters through a months-long challenge of grueling physical preparation and tireless fundraising to reach their pledged goals of collectively raising over $100,000.

The 16 teammates primarily hail from Massachusetts, but include runners from as far away as Tennessee, Alabama and California.  They range in age from 21 to 57 and include marathon rookies and veterans alike.  All of them feel a passion for or connection to the SquashBusters mission, and all of them have dedicated themselves to putting in hundreds of miles and hours as they work tirelessly towards their goals.  To meet our athletes or support their efforts, check out the SQB Marathon Team website on Crowd Rise. Be on the lookout for our for blue and white SquashBusters singlets and cheer them on along the course!

SquashBusters is deeply grateful not only to these 16 runners, but also to the Boston Athletic Association for this incredible opportunity to raise significant funds that will support our programs in providing life-changing opportunities to our students.  Since the Boston Marathon Charity Program officially launched in 1989, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised for nonprofits across Massachusetts and SquashBusters is thrilled to be part of this program in 2019.

The Leaders of Tomorrow

The 2017-2018 SquashBusters
Student Ambassadors

The SquashBusters Student Ambassador Program is a leadership initiative that is at the core of the SquashBusters mission. Composed of 14 high school students, the group meets bi-weekly to discuss the status of the program through their own eyes, plan internal and external events, and provide feedback and suggestions to enhance their experience.

Through their involvement with the Ambassador Program, students learn and practice valuable leadership skills. For instance, the Ambassadors recently led a two-hour event for more than 30 middle school students from three separate Boys and Girls Clubs in Boston.  The SquashBusters students created goals to define what a successful event would look like, planned the run-of-show, divided roles, and practiced and rehearsed over multiple sessions and over multiple days on top of their core commitment to the program. SquashBusters staff were present to supervise, but the Ambassadors led the event flawlessly, greeting the visitors as they arrived, teaching squash, leading relay races, charades and other events, and showing the Boys and Girls Club students what it takes to be a member of a SquashBusters team.

The Ambassadors also play a crucial roles in the SQB program-year kick-off event, the Derby, and seasonal award ceremonies, where they select and celebrate a teammate who exemplifies the I-CARE values that all SquashBusters students strive to live by: Integrity, Concern for others, Appreciation, Respect and Effort.

Most importantly, the Ambassadors are the “culture-keepers” of the SquashBusters Program and embody what makes our community special – people who care deeply about each other and want to create incredible experiences for their teammates.

Breakfast With Champions


Tuesday, October 30 marked SquashBusters’ third annual Breakfast with Champions – a day we broke down walls and brought together people from different circumstances, all in the name of improving the SQB program and strengthening our community. SquashBusters Board members and Advisory Council members, alumni and staff, parents and supporters from Boston, Lawrence and Providence came together for a morning of conversation and inspiration as we tackled some of the most pressing issues faced by our students and program graduates: addressing inequities in public K-12 education, identifying obstacles and ensuring success in college, and supporting students on alternative post-secondary paths.

With SquashBusters Board members Meg Campbell and Juma Crawford leading the way, guests shared personal experiences and reflected on how those experiences have driven their own life outcomes. Then they dug into what SQB is doing well and what we could do better to support our students as they reach for success.  Across topics, one common theme emerged: networks.  Groups shared thoughts on the role SQB plays in broadening our students’ networks and providing access to people, organizations and resources to which they may not otherwise have access.

The morning was capped off with remarks from Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell, a true champion for youth development and a fighter for justice, fairness and equality.  Born and raised in Boston with a personal story of strength and resilience through tragic circumstances, Councilor Campbell has dedicated her work – both before and since holding public office – to helping Boston’s families and communities that need it most.  She challenged everyone in the room to not only think about what SquashBusters can do better, but what each of us as individuals can do better. She urged everyone to carry that question with us every day.  Guests left the Breakfast with Champions inspired, motivated and driven to do more, to do better.  This is what makes all of you our Champions.

SquashBusters is grateful to have had so many great minds join us last week, and we are humbled by your grit and determination to continue this work with us.




Discovering Herself in Washington D.C.

Each summer, SquashBusters connects students to life-changing opportunities to travel, learn, and play – including the Urban Squash Citizenship Tour, which several SQB students, staff & alumni recently joined.

sqbers on citizenship tour
Kiara (center right) joined urban squash students and alumni, including Lynette, (second from left, SQB Lawrence ’19) and Amy (second from right, SQB Boston ’14 and current staff member) on the 5th Annual Urban Squash Citizenship Tour.
Urban Squash Citizenship Tour students with Today Show Anchor Al Roker – Kiara is on his right!

The Urban Squash Citizenship Tour, hosted by Squash and Education Alliance (SEA), gives civically-minded and academically-accomplished high school and college students from across the country the opportunity to explore these questions during an 8-day trip that begins in New York City and ends in Washington, DC, with a stop in Philadelphia.

During the trip, students spent time with leaders in government, journalism, education, policy and the nonprofit community; visited sites that have played a part in American history; engaged with local urban squash programs; exercised and practiced at university and urban squash facilities; and promoted SEA’s local member programs and urban squash. Among other highlights, students met with Senator ​Cory Booker​, Senator ​Kirsten Gillibrand, and NBC Today Show Anchor​s Al Roker, Hoda Kotb and ​Willie Geist.

amy and kiara with supporter
Amy and Kiara even ran into Ashley Garrett (SQB Boston ’07) at a reception at Squash on Fire in Washington, D.C.

Over a dozen SquashBusters students and alumni have participated in the Citizenship Tour since it began five years ago. Below, hear from Kiara, SQB Boston ’18, about her experience in Washington, D.C.

Today my Citizenship Tour crew and I toured Washington D.C. For me, it is my first time here. I have never visited any state farther South than Pennsylvania. I enjoyed seeing all of the monuments, beautiful buildings, and the celebrations of the LGBTQ community all over the place. We also visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This particularly is my favorite highlight of the tour so far, because I found a little bit of myself today.

Being from Cape Verde and not knowing a lot about my own history, coming to this museum gave me more insight on it. Before I came to the United States at the age of 6, I did not know what “Black” was or which people were considered “African Americans.” Ever since, I have learned. Visiting this museum and seeing what my people (who I did not even know were my people) went through to achieve everything they have today was inspiring. As an African from Cape Verde, I know about the history of slavery, but I was not as affected by it as the African-Americans living in the United States because I did not have to experience many of the consequences of American slavery.

I have a sense of African pride that some might not have because they do not know much of their history and I realize this privilege I have. Even though I have been learning this history in schools for a decade, today I felt it harder than ever. I felt a connection like never before. I felt proud to be a part of the Black community like never before. Visiting this museum has left me even more inspired to continue the legacy of my ancestors. The museum is a beautiful place that makes the pain of slavery come to life, but also shows the beauty in the struggle. Through the struggle of enslavement to becoming free, the beauty of our culture was revealed through music and dance (one of the ways I connected because of the popularity of music and dance in Cape Verde) and so much more.

Experiencing this with my friends was also really amazing to me. I could not have gone through this painful but inspiring experience without their support. This tour has been really essential for me because it has given me the opportunity to connect with other young people who share my interest in changing the world. They are truly so bright and motivated. Sharing this experience with these individuals has been one of the best things I have done in my life.

To all my brothers and sisters, continue to discover yourselves too,


Originally published on the Urban Squash Citizenship Tour Blog.