By Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer
As I reflect on the music education delegation to Argentina and Chile last summer, I keep picturing the young orchestra students at the Buen Consejo School (Buenos Aires, Argentina) who performed for us. They were so excited to have music teachers from the United States visit their school. Several members of our delegation donated instruments to the school because it was located in a poor community and it depended solely on donations to exist. When West Virginia teacher, Sherri Tadlock, presented a used flute to the school, the students were elated and the flute teacher was overcome with joy. With tears streaming down her face, she explained that one of the students needed to use her flute because they didn’t have enough instruments. I’ll never forget watching Sherri play with all of the other flute students and seeing the joy on everyone’s face.
The staff members of Nanda Journeys go above and beyond what is required to ensure that the delegation has a safe, informative and experience-filled trip. We have a great time with our international guides and I have always felt safe and cared for in these delegations. It is important to me that we have an educational experience because I have an intense desire to learn about music education and the indigenous folk music wherever I travel.
The insights I’ve gained because of my travels to other countries goes beyond the limitation of language. I’ve learned that people are the same all of the world: they want a better life for their children; they have hopes and dreams just like we do; children are beautiful, curious and mischievous in every corner of the globe. More and more I appreciate all of the luxuries and experiences life in the US provides. My awareness of my privileged life is much stronger now than before I traveled abroad.
I didn’t know what to expect when we traveled to Morocco. The kaleidoscope of new architecture, mosaics, camels, flowing tapestries, fragrant/exotic spices and warm, friendly people expanded my mind and heart even more. We danced and played drums and other percussion instruments with musicians in several restaurants. And the food was AMAZING!
When you spend up to 10 days in another country with other colleagues from the US we share experiences that form deep bonds of friendship and respect. Everything is new and unfamiliar and the language differences can be a challenge at times. We are all supportive of each other and these trips have fostered deep friendships with people who might never have crossed my path. We share teaching strategies, stories about our families and unexpected experiences. Our bus broke down on the freeway on our way to a coastal city in Chile. Some people might have been upset or frustrated but we actually had a great time sitting and chatting with each other, so when the “rescue” van came to get us we were actually surprised to see it drive up.
I still feel connected to each of the delegation communities that have traveled together. Whenever I hear something in the news about a country we’ve visited memories immediately pour into my mind with images of moments we shared together and with the people we met on our trip.
It’s been my privilege to lead music education delegations for nearly ten years. Each time I venture to another country and meet people steeped in unfamiliar cultures I am reminded of our differences and, more importantly, our similarities as humans. I come home a different person after each trip and I am grateful for these opportunities and am eagerly looking forward to our next music education journey to Australia.
Dr. Lynn Brinckmeyer – Professor of Music and Director of Choral Music Education at Texas State University.