Global Impact: Students Sing and Serve Abroad
Children, desperate for love and compassion and hungry for music, were given food and living supplies and were able to quench their musical desires this summer. Traveling to Vietnam and Brazil, E-town College students, faculty and staff members participated in service trips—impacting the world through music and hope.
“When you reach across the world, the world becomes a bit smaller,” said Dr. Peggy McFarland, who led the College’s fourth, three-week trip to Vietnam. This year, students and community members raised more than $30,000 toward supplies for Brittany’s Hope—a foundation that supports orphanages and underserved children throughout the world.
The group traveled across north, south and central Vietnam, visiting orphanages providing supplies and interacting with the children.
“We connected with the kids so quickly—even if we were there for a day and couldn’t speak the language. A smile
or touch was enough,” said Bethany Panchak ‘14, an occupational therapy major.
Liz Braungard ’86, executive director in the Office of Marketing and Communications, joined with students on a trip she described as a “transformative experience.”
“I never expected to connect so quickly to the students, but you can’t go through a trip like this and not stay close to those you experience it with. It’s a powerful common connector,” she said.
The department hosts the Vietnam trip every two years and continues to work closely with Brittany’s Hope.
The College’s Concert Choir and Jazz Band traveled for the first time to Salvador, Brazil—a trip 15 years in the making. Dr. Matthew Fritz, director of the Concert Choir, remembers one of his professors telling him that if he ever had the opportunity to take an ensemble to Brazil, he should do it. “He planted a seed in my head, and I never forgot,” said Fritz.
During the week-long trip, Colegio Anchieta hosted the students as they shared their passion for music with Brazilians through performances and service work.
“Performing was so rewarding. We saw how appreciative they were for hearing the music,” said Brian Booker ’13.
Not only did the students prepare traditional Brazilian pieces, they created a cross-cultural experience by playing American jazz standards. After one concert, Jazz Band director Grant Moore recollected a Brazilian man approached him to say, “You made a lover of jazz out of me tonight.”
In addition to performances, students donated a trumpet to Núcleos Estaduais de Orquestras Juvenis e Infantis da Bahia—a music program for disadvantaged children— and an electronic piano to the Jose Carvalho Foundation—a school for underserved youth. Astounded by the effect the trip had upon him Booker said, “It wasn’t until Brazil that I fully understood [the College motto] ‘Educate for Service’.”
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In addition to the summer service trips, other students, faculty and staff members became a “bigger part of the world” this summer as they traveled to China, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Denmark this summer:
Associate Professor of History Dr. David Kenley and Dr. Hongsong Neuhauser assistant professor of finance, led a two-week study tour to China—the seventh trip in nine years. During the trip, students received four credits in history and business while immersing themselves in Chinese culture.
Throughout the two weeks, students stayed in international guest dorms and visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace and Tianjin.
“This trip gives students the opportunity to gain a broader perspective of their own world,” said Kenley.
Each year, Kenley provides the students with a destination in Beijing—a city of over 20 million people, that they then have to navigate the metropolis to find. During this expedition, students traverse on public transportation where they have to make transactions and communicate with native Chinese speakers.
“Students learn to become self-sufficient and it convinces them that they could live in a foreign country,” said Kenley.
Traveling outside of the country for the first time, sophomore Samantha Weiss said, “The most important thing that I personally brought home with me was a new found confidence in myself. We learned to navigate a city, speak with and without words (when necessary,) to fend for ourselves and to be sure of ourselves while we do it.”
“Basketball is the piece that starts the process, but the cultural experience is more of the real purpose,” said Bob Schlosser, head men’s basketball coach and associate director of athletics.
In May, the team spent eight days in Prague and played three games against Sokol Prazky U19, CZU Praha A and Get Better Academy. Every three years, the team travels overseas to explore a new culture, bond and prepare for the upcoming season. Previously, they have traveled to Germany, Italy, France and Ireland.
Dr. Sanjay Paul, associate professor of economics, led a one-week study tour in Brussels, Belgium. The trip was from May 24 to June 1 and was designed for students to learn more about the European Union. Students visited multiple locations including the Berlaymont, which houses the headquarters of the European Commission.