After he retired from his career in opera, Jae-Chang Kim relocated to the Indian city of Pune where he started the Banana Children’s Choir for children living in the city’s slums. Affectionately nicknamed Angry Bird by his students, Jae-Chang Kim is not attempting to train his youth choir members to work as professional musicians; instead he wants to introduce them to the world beyond Pune through music and performance. But the children’s parents, who are struggling in the economic margins, wonder if the time spent at choir practice could be better used studying and helping to earn money for the family.
The film Singing with Angry Bird follows Jae-Chang Kim for a year as he attempts to involve the parents in the choir by inviting them to rehearse for and perform in a joint concert with their kids. As the project intersects with the choir families’ daily challenges, Angry Bird and the singers must collaborate to find new strategies to make space for the singing they love while respecting the demanding economic and cultural responsibilities of Pune’s community.
Through the following lesson for Singing with Angry Bird, students will understand the significance of cultural competence in cultural exchange projects like the Banana Children’s Choir and assess its benefits and limitations. They will also explore the related concept of cultural humility and consider how they would integrate these approaches into theoretical cultural exchange projects of their own.