FON Spotlight Series: Caribbean FON Leaders


Photo Courtesy of The Classic Staff

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With Festival of Nations in full swing, the Caribbean FON leaders shared their goals, experiences, and excitement for this year’s performance. 

The leaders from the senior class are Blessing Ogunsola, Tijon Dembo, and Kaitlyn Mckenzie, and the leaders from the junior class are Camila Estevez and Tolulope Agosu.

Blessing, who is also an African American FON leader, has been a part of Caribbean FON for two years and a dancer since the third grade. She enjoys ballet, contemporary, and New York and Hispanic dance styles. She said, “when the previous leaders had asked me [to lead], I decided to take it on, so I can help the future leaders put on a good show.”

Many FON participants, and even leaders, are not part of the cultures of the dances they take part in, which is fairly common at THHS. Blessing said, “people who aren’t Caribbean, like me, [can] find joy doing Caribbean dances; I feel like it’s a welcoming space for that.” 

Tijon has participated in FON since his freshman year and has been a leader of other FONs for two years, including African American FON. Outside of THHS, he is a part of a competitive dance team, Project Spark. He said, “I use Caribbean FON to showcase my mom’s side and African American FON to showcase my dad’s side.” When asked about his goals for this FON he said, “I know a lot of people joined [this year] because they saw the performances last year, [so I] want to make it better [to encourage] more people to join next year.”

Kaitlyn has been dancing since the age of five and knows around seven dance styles. One of her aims for this year is to “try to expose [the dancers] to more Caribbean lifestyles and different types of music, [but her] main goal is just to have fun.”

Kaitlyn said that having the ability to experience different cultures from nations so far away gives her the opportunity to learn more about other cultures, customs, and lifestyles. “Caribbean FON, specifically, [is] a way to dive into my roots, learn about it myself, and also be able to share it with other people,” she said. 

Tolulope explained that her favorite part of FON season is the amount of cooperation and dedication it takes to create a performance. She said, “I’ve been dancing as a hobby for basically most of my life.” Showing people the diversity of the Caribbean and their cultural identities is one of her main goals. “Even if [the dancers] may not know much about the dances, they could still have fun and learn to do them the best that they could,” she said.

Camila emphasized the personal connections she formed through FON, saying that, “it felt like a little family where everyone could have fun dancing and getting along with each other, and I wanted to keep that feeling.” Like many of her co-leaders, Camila has been dancing for most of her life, but said, “I specifically remember getting into it when I was about [seven].”

Sophomore Xander Webster joined Caribbean FON because of the music and said, “I enjoy listening to reggae and soca in the car.”

Sophomore Oluwafunmilola Olayemiraji expressed her fondness for the leaders’ way of teaching and dancing. She said, “their style of [leading] is fun but serious when it needs to be.” She said that their way of dancing tells a story and shows their dedication.

Camila explained that her favorite part of FON is its size and the meaningful interactions with the dancers. She said, “getting to learn everyone’s names and dance styles has been so amazing to watch and experience firsthand.” Her goals this season are to become a successful leader and to produce a show she’s proud of. “I hope that leading this FON can pass on that feeling to others and show how uplifting and simply fun it can be,” she said.