Education in the USA

A FO! SAY IT! A Poetry Exchange
Malian Students in English
American Students in French

In 2012-13, Ko-Falen received a Multnomah County Cultural Coalition grant to help fund a Poetry Exchange between Malian and American High School Students.

A FO! Facebook

Spearheaded and coordinated by Joyce Lozito (Portland Public Schools Teacher and Ko-Falen Executive Board Member) “A FO! SAY IT!” was born. French class students in Portland, Oregon and english class students in Bamako, Mali were introduced through the prompt “I Am From” to compose original personal poems in their new language. After the poems were exchanged, students were partnered to give feedback and ask questions of their Other Country counterpart. These exchanges were profound and startling. Malian students, touched by the onset of civil war in their country, gave a human face to this struggle to students in America, defining Culture, Community, Family and Home. American students opened their hearts and talked of personal struggles in their lives. The introductions through poetry gave students an opportunity to delve deep into their personal experiences to represent who they were.

Exchanges continued through a Collaborative Poem exercise and through Skype connections. At the end of the school year, a collection of these poems and exchanges was put into a publication and given to each student and made available to the public. A poetry performance of original poems was created by students, open to the public in an outdoor park in Portland.

This exchange broadened the awareness of students on both sides of the Atlantic.

Would you like Ko-Falen to create a poetry project with your community? Contact us at