Dear AMA Directors and Staff,
We have just returned home from what has and always will be one of the greatest adventures of my life. Although I am slightly jet lagged, I have begun to re-enter the daily routine that is my life in America. This does not keep me from slipping into flashbacks of the trip. My family makes little jokes about me (probably out of jealousy), because I will randomly go into a story of something I ate in Paris, or something I saw in Westendorf. I have realized how important a trip this has been, not only in the stories it has given me, but the changes in my character that it has brought. You spoke of how great we were as students we were, how responsible, intellectual, inspired, behaved, and respectful we were. Yet what you failed to mention is that without out the adult leadership and dedication to all the students on this trip, we would have just been well behaved American students. With you, the directors of AMA Red Tour 2011, we were a symbol of the greatness that still exists in the United States of America.
Upon arriving at ESU, I knew five or six people going on the trip from prior bands. I was nervous at first, but I decided very quickly that I had to make friends or it was going to be a long trip. I started by introducing myself (probably awkwardly) to some random people with little response. Then Mr. Linaberry spoke about interacting with new people at one of our seminars, and friends began to flood into my life. Friends that during the trip became very dear to me. This is all thanks to Mr. Linaberry and the rest of you who forced us to mingle with new people. For that I owe you the greatest thanks. This is not the only thing I owe you greatly for on this trip.
It takes a special group of teachers to chaperone a bunch of teenagers, sit them down for three long days to practice music and keep them interested. Even kids who love music get tired of band or choir rehearsal in a three day period of none stop practice. Yet both the symphonic band and chorus members never regretted going to the rehearsals. You kept us entertained. You knew when we needed breaks. Most importantly you had something new about the music we were playing to teach every rehearsal. On this trip I grew immensely as a musician. I was no longer just playing notes and rhythms. By the end of the tour, I was playing moving lines and songs. I felt the movement of the music instead of the straight beats; this is something I had never experienced up to this point to this degree. This would have never happened without the band directors. This is an experience that will carry over to the remainder of my musical career. I thank the musical directors for their help in my reaching this point.
Along the tour I experienced many new things. The culture was so different that at some times, it scared me or made me nervous. This goes especially for the food. At home, I am a very picky eater. When I received my first European meal, it was pretty plain. I can’t tell you what type of bird it was, but I ate it without a problem. Then, some weird sauces were added. After taking a deep breath I tried, and found I enjoyed it. Food no longer became a problem and now I am more apt to try new foods even in America. I know that I can thank Mr. Uhl for this experience with his planning of our dinners and for the directors who recommended the greatest places in Europe to try new things.
The last thing and most important thing that happened to me on this trip was my change in character and way of thinking. A few times in Europe I found myself in groups or places I would not have picked to be in. My mind immediately jumped to a quote I had once heard from a wise man, “If you can’t change your circumstance, change your attitude.” This allowed me to make the best of even the times when I was in places or situations that I did not want to be in. A skill that will definitely come in handy in the future and that I will definitely use. I also remembered another important quote by a very wise lady, “I can’t hear your words because your actions are too loud.” (Quotes may be worded slightly different, sorry Mr. Linaberry). So because of this quote I didn’t necessarily ask just the instructors if they needed help, I did small tasks that I knew needed to get done and asked other students if the needed help. Toward the end of the trip, Mrs. Linaberry took notice of this and being noticed for small things. Recognition for small things like panic checks on the bus after everyone else has gotten off, or helping a fellow student up the stairs with a suitcase, feels a ton better then getting noticed for doing the things you are asked to do (although this is nice too). I feel like those things showed that you were willing to take time you did not have to give and do something for other people. The best part was when people saw me and other students doing these things, they also began to do them. This was all wrapped up beautifully by Mr. Garde’s speech in Switzerland, when he told us that even though we had just been praised, to remember to keep doing the same things. Not only to get praised more, but because it’s the right thing to do. I am not what you may call an overly emotional person, but I began tearing up in his speech. It meant a lot to me.
The trip would have been nowhere near as enjoyable without the unending knowledge, and expert planning of Mr. John Uhl. The immense preparation of Mr. Dashew, Mr. Fink, Mr. Linaberry, Mr. Garde, Mr. Carichner, and all the other directors that I was sad not to have had the pleasure to work with on the trip. The positive attitudes of all the chaperones like Nurse Sue, Mrs. Linaberry, and Mrs. Dashew who made even count off’s and passport checks enjoyable. All of the adults did one thing that the students really appreciated, they all lead by example. All things they preached to us they practiced. Mr. Linaberry always had the endorphins flowing, Mr. Fink left no evidence anywhere he went, and Mr. Garde was always kind and considerate to all the people around him. In all, the staff were willing to introduce themselves to the students and meet us individually, to be our friends, and help us pick plans for a day in Europe. For this we all thank you. You helped make it, the trip of a lifetime.