We just returned from an amazing cultural exchange in Havana, Cuba with 28 of Newton's Grove finest student musicians.
I cannot begin to say how proud and happy I am with each and every student who came with us. We had unbelievable experiences; we saw breath taking scenery; our kids played incredible music, and we all connected with so many wonderful people. We played a total of 8 concerts: in incredible music schools, at our hotel, outside on the streets of Havana. We jammed with some of the finest of Cuba's musicians, and saw amazing shows. Some of our performances were under very challenging circumstances, with music and stands blowing away, heat, sun in our eyes, car horns blowing and broken pianos. But time after time, our kids rose above and beyond the challenges, and presented themselves as seasoned, focused, and gifted musicians.
Our trip wasn't all music-related: we got a chance to soak in the Cuban landscape when we visited a breathtaking rain forest. We climbed to a waterfall, swam under it and through a cave. We even took a boat through an underground river!
We visited an orphanage. Without a doubt, this was one of the most moving and touching experiences of my entire life. Our students connected, reached out and shared themselves with kids from the orphanage, aged 7 - 15. They performed for them, and I saw the power of music go beyond the language barrier and unite the cultures. I have to say that this was one of the most profound moments I have ever experienced. Our students were just being themselves; no prompting, no instructions. They just reached out and connected. They are beautiful human beings, with huge hearts, big talent and wonderful spirits.
Thank you to the wonderful assistance and support of the teachers and administrators who came, Mrs Chachel, Mr. Roberts, Ms. Hart, Mr Little and Mrs. Bush.