By Amy Reynolds-Namaste. If I had to choose one word to describe this trip, it would be JOY! The excitement built slowly as we entered the country and the joy was first evident when we performed with the African youth at Buskaid Soweto Strings for a musical exchange. That collaboration was the pure representation of joy and the love of music and performance that the Buskaid group demonstrated became our performance goal for the rest of the trip.
There was also joy in learning about the amazing history and cultural traditions of South Africa through our guide and favorite South African, Pieter, other tour guides, and the various museums and memorials we visited. BSS students soaked up the knowledge and remembered an amazing amount as evidenced by how many Rands they won when Mrs. Neal quizzed them on the bus (“Game On!”).
Both performances were steeped in joy which will be evident in the video when you see it. But it was especially visible in the faces of the South African youth that we performed with or collaborated with throughout our trip. Sometimes the connections were slow but they always took hold and their were always hugs and hi-fives by the time we left. The BSS students were amazing ambassadors and loved making new friends. Everywhere we went audiences including other Suzuki teachers were in awe of their ability and poise. We were all so proud!!
Finally, seeing the animals each and every time whether it was the safari at Pilanesburg, the seals, the penguins or random baboons on the side of the road often led to squeals of delight. It was often difficult to peel them away frm these amazing, once in a lifetime sights, including the incredible South African vistas evident everywhere we went. After thousands of photos, I can honestly say I have never witnessed a more awe-inspiring experience. I believe each and everyone of us have been touched by this experience and I hope it inspires us and everyone we tell about our journey to try and make the world a better place. And it can all begin with finding joy in music and each other.