Beats Across Borders

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor Maud invited me to a benefit concert. Her funk/jazz band, Chill Beenz, was getting back together to help raise money for refugees through an organization at her university, Sciences Po. I didn’t even know she had a group. Turns out, they’re talented, with big hearts and lots of friends and fans, who turned up to see them and two other groups play the Alimentation Générale in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, collectively raising 2800€.


Chill Beenz members Akos Palencsar, Maud Koenig-O’Carrol and Daniel Nothaft


Emilie dLF, rapper, singer, saxophone player, jumping in


Emilie dLF and Maud Koenig-O’Carroll


Spleen comes up on stage from the shadows to sing with Chill Beenz

(Here’s) a video of Paul & Dafne opening the evening.-DV.

Sciences Po Refugee Help
is an association that brings together citizens concerned about the current refugee crisis unfolding in Europe.

Our 5 teams (Administration, Material Needs, French Lessons, Asylum Aid, & Social Activities) are ready to take care of refugees as soon as we make first contact with them in camps and centres. We provide them with administrative, material, educational support, as well as companionship.

Our objective is to accompany refugees during the asylum-seeking process in France through fundraising (which will help us deploy more resources), by raising awareness on the cause (by hosting events within and outside of Sciences Po) and by institutionalising solidarity within our university and beyond.

Our Facebook page :

Our crowdfunding page :

Sciences Po Refugee Help est une association qui rassemble les citoyens qui se sentent concernés par la crise des réfugiés qui se déroule aujourd’hui en Europe.

Nos 5 équipes (Administration, Besoins Matériels, Cours de Français, Aide à la Demande d’Asile, Activités Sociales) sont prêtes à suivre les réfugiés dès qu’ils arrivent dans les centres ou les camps. Nous offrons de l’aide dans toutes leurs démarches administratives, ainsi qu’un support émotionnel et moral.

Nous nous sommes engagés à suivre et à accompagner les réfugiés pendant leurs démarches d’obtention du statut de réfugié. C’est pourquoi nous avons lancé une campagne de levée de fonds pour sensibiliser la population sur une cause essentielle, et pour institutionnaliser la solidarité au sein de notre université et de notre société au sens large.

Notre page Facebook :

Notre campagne de crowdfunding :

Steel drum Sundays

One day last year, someone handed me a brochure for the MPAA, Maison des Pratiques Artistiques Amateurs. Inside I discovered classes, workshops and performances in music, dance, theater, and art for insanely reasonable prices, making everything accessible to anyone with a desire to learn, with no previous experience required.

An alto steel drum waiting to be played at our first concert last spring. ©Danielle Voirin.

When I saw Steel Drum workshop, October-June, performing three concerts in spring, my whole being lit up and said YES!

And what I’ve found in this weekly class is a group of people from all different backgrounds coming together on Sundays to learn songs on this instrument whose existence and history is proof of the human need for expression and celebration through music.

At rehearsal for our first concert, which combined four different steel-drum groups from around Paris, I found myself in the middle of a group of 70 drummers. As we all started playing those first rolling notes, I was overwhelmed with emotion. It was so powerful to be a participant in creating that huge sound, I had to stop myself from crying. If my eyes filled with tears I wouldn’t be able to see the instrument!



The beautiful tenor drum, also the most challenging to play in bright sunlight. ©Danielle Voirin.

Music can save your life, or just your bad day; listening to it and playing it. The first time I played a steel drum I had to stop myself from laughing out loud, like a kid on a swing for the first time. I was the newest person in the group that day, but I could see everyone was really happy to spend their Sundays together. There’s no indifference to these instruments, you come to them out of pure joy. At least I did.