I suppose not much has changed airline-wise between today and last Sunday — international flights are still impossible to sleep on, customs are still a beast to get through, and travelers just want to get home. However, there were many key differences in the travelers of our group. Many of us had just been minted “international travelers,” and although this is just a title, if you ask students what these words mean to them, they won’t simply say they are just a title. Many of us will say it means we were able to go places that we had never dreamed of before, and that we got to perform entire concerts, not just close them, and that we met people we couldn’t have imagined ever talking to.
I think the most surprising thing for me coming to a foreign country was that every local I talked to was so incredibly friendly. When I was waiting outside of El Ateneo bookstore for the bus to pick us up, a woman struck up a conversation with me. She asked where I was from, what I was doing across the world, and how I liked Argentina. As soon as I saw the bus pull up and had to say my goodbyes, she expressed how thankful she was to have another chance to practice her English. Although I will never see this woman again, or meet every person that came to our concerts, I can thank them for doing their part in making my trip a positive experience.
To wrap this up, I’ve been tasked to tackle the question, “What does this trip mean to you personally?” There are so many ways I could try to answer this important question, but no words can really fully answer it. I first tried out for MYSO in sixth grade when my private teacher asked if I was interested. I never in a million years thought I would get in; there was no string program in my school district to speak of, and I didn’t think I was good enough to contribute anything to this amazing organization. As you can see, I got in, and year after year, I kept coming back. I involved myself in every avenue I could, from theory classes to interning with the Progressions program, but since that first year in String Orchestra West, I had dreamed about going on tour. I would daydream in the middle of practicing for my seating audition about the year I would perform for people that possibly didn’t even speak my language. I would fall asleep at night looking forward to spending days outside of MYAC with the friends I had met in orchestra. So what does this trip mean to me personally? It means a fulfillment of a goal, but not the end of a dream.