West Virginia University alumna and former Morgantown resident Sarah Culberson will share her unique, personal journey about discovering she is an African princess at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Metropolitan Theatre.
This is a dream come true,Culberson said.I never dreamt something like this could happen, to be able to return to the town I grew up in and share something thats so important to me. It means so much to me to have the amazing support of the people in Morgantown to do something positive in the world.
Culberson, who has been featured on ABC sGood Morning Americaand the front page of the Los Angeles Times as well as other state and national news outlets, will talk about her experiences and answer questions.
The event will feature a documentary segment about Culbersons dramatic reunion with her biological father in West Africa, along with a performance by the WVU African Ensemble and local Appalachian musicians.
Culberson grew up in Morgantown after being adopted as an infant by Jim and Judy Culberson. She has been working in Los Angeles as an actress and dance instructor.
She learned of her royal heritage with the Mende tribe only two years ago after a private investigator helped her locate her father in Bumpe, Sierra Leone.
The news, she said was shocking: Her father, Joseph Konia Kposowa, was a member of the ruling family of the Mende tribe in the southern province of Sierra Leone. She was, by birthright, a princess.
Following an emotional trip there, during which she was reunited with her father and other relatives, she realized that being a princess in this civil war ravaged country was not glamorous. Most people there lived in poverty, and the school where her father was headmaster was damaged and in danger of closing.
When she returned to America, she wanted to do something to make a difference in Sierra Leone, so she established the non-profit Kposowa Foundation to raise funds to help rebuild the Bumpe school. The renovated school will be a place students can also live while they learn, she said.
Were all in the world together,Culberson said.If one part of the world is off balance, it affects everything else. I wanted to do something that was going to make a long-term difference and leave a lasting contribution.
Culberson has held fund-raising activities in LA, but also wanted to do something in Morgantown. With the support and assistance of the Culberson family and the WVU College of Creative Arts, the Nov. 15 event was born.
While there is no cover charge, organizers are asking for donations, said WVU acting/directing professor Jerry McGonigle, who serves on the Kposowa Foundations board of directors.
Its important to the Bumpe community to rebuild their school,said McGonigle.Were excited about what we can do to help the village.
The WVU African Ensemble is organizing an exciting performance for the Morgantown show, said director Gordon Nunn.
This kind of event is perfect for us, because the WVU African Ensemble is dedicated to presenting the music and dance of various cultures of West Africa,Nunn said.The African Ensemble’s mission is to entertain as well as educate through West African music and dance.
The internationally-recognized ensemble has performed throughout United States, Taiwan and South Korea. Highlights include the group’s appearances at the Seoul International Drum Festival in Seoul, South Korea, the Lotus Blossoms World Music Festival in Bloomington, and the Percussive Arts Society’s International Conventions in Columbus and Nashville.
Culberson, a University High School graduate, earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in theater from WVU s College of Creative Arts in 1998 and her masters in fine arts from the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco in 2001.
In addition to the show at the Met, Culberson will also be sharing her experiences with students at Cheat Lake Elementary and University High, along with the Rotary Club of Morgantown.
Her adoptive father, Jim, is a professor of neuroanatomy at WVU ; her mother Judy a special education teacher. The Culbersons adopted Sarah two days after her first birthday and raised her along with two other daughters.
For more information about the show, contact Jerry McGonigle at 304-293-2020 ext. 3124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
For more information about rebuilding the school in Sierra Leone, or to send a donation, visithttp://bumpenya.com.