Bryan Series welcomes Canada

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity. Everyone has the same chance to succeed, right?

According to Geoffrey Canada, a visit to an impoverished and violent city borough like Harlem can quickly disprove this belief.

Growing up nearby in the South Bronx of New York City, Canada experienced the dangers and mayhem of poor, inner-city life on a daily basis.

Understanding firsthand the unfairness of children living in a world where gunshots outnumber high school graduates, he dedicated his life to helping eliminate violence in inner cities and giving children a chance for a better life.

His social activism and enthusiasm for changing lives made him a desirable choice for The Bryan Series.

Community members can look forward to hearing Canada speak on Feb. 10 at 3:30 p.m., at War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro. Prior to the presentation, spectators will have the chance to hear the Guilford College Guitar Ensemble.

As president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone since 1990, Canada strives to increase high school and college graduation rates in Harlem. This nonprofit provides free aid for impoverished children and families through parenting workshops, a supportive preschool program, public charter schools, and health programs to break the cycle of poverty.

“He has helped to bring critical issues in education to the forefront through film, books and appearances all over the country,” said David Temple, visiting assistant professor of education studies. “There are some who disagree with his picture of American schools and what needs to be done to transform them. Whether you agree with him or not, the important thing is that he has inspired profound and passionate conversation.”

Canada is also a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, an organization that serves to generate more educational opportunities for students throughout the country.

“We have a great teacher education program at Guilford,” said Ty Buckner, associate vice president for communications and marketing. “I really believe that (Canada) touches so many areas of that. He’s a principle problem-solver. He’s critically involved in community and justice. If you ticked off the seven core values the college has identified for itself, he pretty much hits each one of them.”

Buckner, who plays a key role in hiring, organizing and promoting these events, is excited to hear Canada speak because he thinks that it will be both an informative and entertaining presentation.

Rebeca Bonilla, a junior, watched the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” which featured much of Canada’s work, and is looking forward to hearing Canada speak next week as well.

“He’s created a system that gives kids a chance to succeed beyond adversities like crime, poverty or complicated home lives,” said Bonilla, an education studies and psychology double-major. “He has created a model that makes kids resilient to factors that often result in high drop out rates and high arrest rates. He has proven that these kids should, and can, succeed just like anyone else.”

Buckner too shares this excitement for Canada’s speech.

“I’m most excited that our students and our faculty and the members of the community will be really engaged with this program,” said Buckner. “I truly believe that, and that they will walk away having learned something and having heard from a person who is in the trenches doing this work.”

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