Students Travel to Europe for Music Tour; Others Attend Alternative Spring Break Trip in South Carolina

Over spring break, members of the Cantata Choir and Academy Orchestra toured around Eastern Europe, while other Andover students reconstructed homes in South Carolina. Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, said that 83 students and eight faculty members performed in three concerts in Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic, as well as Budapest, Hungary. Students and faculty said that they were amazed by the turnout for the concerts. Walter said that there were over 400 residents in attendance at the local church in Prague where they performed, and Kaki Elgin ’09, a member of the Academy Orchestra, said that there wasn’t a single open seat in the building. Kate Weiner ’11, a member of Cantata, said only a few flyers advertised Andover’s performances, so most of the people who attended must have heard about the event through word of mouth. Although the primary focus of the trip was to perform, students said that they came away from the spring tour with new friendships and knowledge about the cities they explored. Weiner said that she was excited about visiting a castle in Prague that played a role in Europe’s Thirty Years War, which she had learned about in her History 340 class. She said the trip was also special to her because she was able to visit a Budapest synagogue that her ancestors once attended. Elgin said that she had high expectations for her third and final spring break tour and was not disappointed. “The orchestra really tuned into each other and the chorus’ sound haunted the halls,” she said. “It was amazing.” The 10 faculty members and 41 students in the Alternative Spring Break community service trip traveled to John’s Island, South Carolina, home to the Gullah community. The Gullah are Creole-speaking descendents of enslaved Africans who once established homes on the Sea Islands of South Carolina, including John’s Island. Andover students assisted the John’s Island residents by reconstructing and repairing their homes, tasks that many of the residents do not have the means to accomplish. Students worked alongside Rural Mission Inc., an organization that works specifically with the Gullah community. Rev. Michael Ebner, Principal Gift Officer, said that students and faculty worked on a variety of projects. Some built a deck and handicap ramp for a woman confined to a wheelchair; others placed a new floor in her home and widened the doorways for better access. Participants also fixed floors and roofs caving in from termite damage in two houses. Jasmine Stovall ’10 laughed as she recalled of one of her favorite moments on the trip—restoring the floor of a woman’s home covered with 20 layers of linoleum. “Every time the floor would get dirty, [the woman] would just put down another layer,” Stovall said. “We even found a newspaper from 1963 between one of the layers. That’s over 45 years of linoleum!” The Andover volunteers stayed overnight at a Rural Mission complex, cooked their own meals every night and worked nine-hour days for five days. On a free night, they returned to South Carolina’s mainland to explore Charleston. Ebner said that many John’s Island residents interacted with students and that the residents’ families traveled to the work site to show their appreciation. The island residents also held a seafood jamboree in which they sang gospel and talked to students. Elizabeth Kelly ’11 said, “Now that we’re back at Andover, it is so great to see all of the people who went to South Carolina around campus. Now we are screaming across walkways to people we didn’t even know two weeks ago.” “We rotated sites every day, so kids never got to see the before and after shots of all the sites they worked at. At first, this frustrated me; but then I learned that service is not about a before-and-after shot,” said Kristen Faulkner ’11. “We may not see the difference that we alone make, but we are part of a bigger picture.”