“Music connects us. ” – Rui Santos
During his three years working at Deerfield as a valued custodian, Rui Santos has touched the lives of many by sharing his radiant kindness, positivity, and enriching musical talent with the Deerfield community.
Mr. Santos, originally from the Cape Verde Islands 500 miles off the coast of Senegal, West Africa, Mr. Santos pursued a musical career prior his time at Deerfield. He performed initially with a group of musicians in Africa and later with his band Ras Moon, based in Amherst, MA, touring across the East Coast, Europe, and Africa with a primarily West-African reggae repertoire. He also has some songs in Creole, his native language, such as “Triste Sem Bo” which means “I miss you.” His other original songs include “Let our peace bless the world” and “Light is returning.”
After 10 years of working as a musician, Mr. Santos decided to accept a position to work within the Deerfield community. Ever since joining, Mr. Santos has faced no struggle in forming meaningful relationships, as through performing, he became comfortable in being around people and building a connection with his audience.
Angela Osei-Ampadu ’21 shared, “Santos has the special ability to connect deeply with students through simple and casual conversation.” She continued, “He contributes to the spirit of the Deerfield community and cares deeply about us students which he shows by helping with campus events and coaching soccer, one of his passions. Santos is always looking for ways to give back to the Deerfield community.”
Dean of Students Mr. Samuel Bicknell commented further on Mr. Santos’s positivity. “When you speak with him, he is fully present in the conversation. He is genuine in his interactions with other community members and is a positive, optimistic outlet,” he said.
Student Activities Coordinator Mr. Brian Barbato also noted that, in addition to his official roles in the Deerfield community, Mr. Santos “unofficially does a lot of work that people don’t even understand in the way he brings his music to campus.”
When recalling one of his most memorable interactions with Mr. Santos, Dean of Ethical and Spiritual Life Mr. Jan Flaska described the time when Mr. Santos shared with him the CD of his first release album. Mr. Flaska immediately brought it to Mr. Bicknell, understanding that this music needed to be heard by the community.
Recently, Mr. Santos made an appearance at the Fall Festival where he performed songs in Creole in an attempt to raise the student body’s awareness of Cape Verde’s culture. Determined to bring his life experience into all that he does, Mr. Santos highlighted for us the importance of being orally exposed to unique cultures, words, and music.
Following the festival, Mr. Barbato talked to Mr. Santos about hosting him for a winter event and for Spring Day because of his “immense talent, infectious positivity, and story.” Mr. Barbato commented, “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are Deerfield students inspired by what he is doing…he sets a standard with the community in so many ways.”
Once his son graduates from Deerfield, Mr. Santos plans to retire and return to Cape Verde to play music while spending time with his family. Already having visited Mexico, Jamaica, and Portugal among other countries, Mr. Santos hopes to continue traveling and fulfill his dreams of visiting Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia to learn about their ancient civilizations.
In regards to the Deerfield community, Mr. Barbato shared that Deerfield’s next steps include “seeing how we can use [Mr. Santos’s] amazing skill set to educate Deerfield students in a more intimate setting beside the performance.”
Osei-Ampadu added, “I definitely see Mr. Santos making more meaningful connections with DA students through his passions such as music. I hope more students take the time to talk to Deerfield staff around campus who work so hard to make Deerfield feel at home. You’ll be very lucky to have been touched by their genuine care and kindness during your time at Deerfield.”
Through his enriching presence and contributions, Mr. Santos enhances Deerfield’s diversity by sharing music that spreads peace, love, happiness, and comfort within the community.