Hanifa Washington studied Communication Theory, and Russian and Soviet Studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Her studies pushed her to be critical of mass media, to examine the motives of human communication on varying platforms, as well as exuberantly explore the evolution of anthropologic linguistics in varying human societies.

She is steeped in digital media creation and studied Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed at length- a form of popular theatre that empowers communities to problem solve constructively. Hanifa studied Russian for 7 years and traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1996. She graduated with her BA in 2001 and went on to work heavily as a youth development specialist in the experiential learning sector. She was a co-founder the first worker owned cooperative in Portland, Maine and has a reverence for sustainable, organic food sovereignty.

Hanifa served as the cook and educator on the Amistad throughout a ten-month tour of the Caribbean. She was part of the Amistad’s historic arrival in Cuba and completed the schooner’s homecoming to Mystic, Connecticut. During this high-profile public diplomacy initiative with the direct involvement of the United Nations, US State Department, and the Cuban government, Hanifa fulfilled her professional work duties with efficiency and skill, but she did so while bolstering crew morale at critical moments, and she did so while always reminding the crew of the greater purpose of the voyage they had undertaken.

Even during the most difficult moments – and there were many — she never lost her spirit of optimism, and she embraced with wonderment the extraordinary events unfolding — from conducting the Haitian student sail programs (after the devastating earthquake) to participating in formal receptions with the leaders of Cuba and the US diplomatic core. And every so often, she’d agree to perform music for the crew, for the students and a few times at public events.

She went on to sail over 250 days at sea, also working with the South Carolina Maritime Foundation and Ocean Classroom Foundation. Hanifa returned to Amistad in a coordinating role January 2011, and helped to create the vision and curriculum for the Amistad’s DR based programming, and new Connecticut based summer programming. This past winter she coordinated Amistad’s first winter programs from the Amistad Center of Santo Domingo.

Arranged by Bob Smith.