You never know…


Class of 2013 – Traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to work with the West Indies Christian Mission

Row 1: Alison Hendrickson, Julie Jakmides, Jenny Gamertsfelder, Sarah Wroblewski, Jon Borrego.
Row 2: Steve Kramer, Amy Ricciardi, Emily Christmas, Kelsey Tomlinson, Naoko Oyabu-Mathis, Zak Suhar.
Row 3: Kody Severino, Megan Merlene, Kelly Slutz, Kathy Girton (host), Elana Anderson (cook), Mike Patterson, Jonathan Espacio (guide).

Over spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic on a service trip. It was part of the social responsibility and personal well-being course offered at Mount Union, and it was quite an awesome experience.

It was an AMAZING experience. I learned so much about another culture, the other people on the trip and myself. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow and do service at Mount Union, but this one was definitely one of the best.

We did a lot of work while over there. We mixed cement the old-fashioned way, we painted at least six rooms and we helped feed more than 200 people in a dump village. In a dump village, people actually live in little communities next to the local landfill, and that’s where they get their meals.

I also learned a lot about the people on the trip with me. Every night we would share our life stories, and I grew to realize that with any given person, I have a lot more in common with them than not. I look at life and people a little differently now because of that.

BUT! You’re probably wondering what this has to do with music and the arts, since I typically blog about the arts. Well, I’ll tell you.

Before we headed to the Dominican Republic, our host Kathy Girton asked what we were interested in and good at. She wanted to know what we could do with any kids we worked with, and how to make the free day enjoyable. So naturally, I said singing and music.

Well! On day one, we were headed to work with a bunch of kids. And we worked with a ton of kids; that was probably a majority of the trip. We played with bubbles, jump ropes or just gave them piggyback rides. It was awesome.

But I digress. On day one, Kathy hands me this book of Spanish songs. And I’m like: Uh oh. I don’t know any of these songs, if I mess up all the kids will know…

So I look through the pages. Then I realize, I CAN read this music! We’ve been learning solfeg in choir for the last three years! Solfeg is a method of assigning notes a syllable, like do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti. Because the intervals between the syllables never change, I can assign syllables to notes in music and sight-read it.

And that’s exactly what I did. Within minutes I had a song or two completely down, and I was so excited.

First, because it was really empowering. I could have been totally lost, but I wasn’t.

Second, because it was so great to use my music knowledge! People say, “Why do I have to take this class, I’ll never use it.” Well, you never truly know where you’re gonna use the knowledge you acquire in a class. And this Dominican Republic moment proves it!

For pictures of our trip, check out this video!

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