Visiting professor Jose Tojo

This semester, a number of SIUE students have had the opportunity to get to know visiting professor Jose Tojo, and in doing so have been able to learn more about Maroon theater and culture. 43-year-old Tojo is originally from Suriname but now a resident of the Netherlands where he works as an officer of the law and teaches performing arts in his spare time.

Aminata Cairo (left) and Jose Tojo (right) perform a dance.

“Where I’m from in Suriname, it’s a way of life and what I’m doing now is sharing with people,” Tojo explained. “I’m teaching culture.”

Tojo has been studying performing arts his entire life and as a result has become a skilled drummer, playwright, actor, director, and dancer. His decision to begin teaching Maroon culture to students began when he went to theater school in the Netherlands and found that his professors and fellow students knew very little about his culture. Tojo feels that teaching culture is his calling and eagerly embraces opportunities to give people new perspectives on culture.

“There are more ways to think about theater and about culture.” During his two month stay at SIUE, Tojo will be teaching dance and collaborating on a play with his students. He hopes to convey the different roles performing arts can have in a society, and that theater is a way to interact with and become a part of culture.

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