EuroChoir Sings Its Way Across the Continent

April 2, 2008

The Saint Anselm College EuroChoir, consisting of 34 students, spent the week of spring break performing in three European cities: Budapest, Salzburg, and Zurich.  The students, along with choir director, Fr. Bede and four chaperones, left February 29 for a whirlwind week around the continent.

The group touched down in Budapest and spent time exploring the historic city. They gave three performances at various churches, often becoming a tourist attraction themselves while posing for pictures in their formal concert attire prior to performances.

The group experienced some familiar weather while in Salzburg, where a snowstorm covered the city streets. Many students cite watching The Sound of Music while driving through the Alps after seeing the movie setting as one of the highlights of the trip. While in Austria, the EuroChoir sang in Salzburg Cathedral where Mozart was baptized. They also visited smaller venues where they used their voices to raise money in a benefit concert to support local music programs.

Then it was another six hour bus ride to Zurich where they gave two performances and attended a memorable farewell dinner on their last night in Europe–filled with reminiscing about the past and looking forward to future choir trips.

The trip was full of reconnecting with familiar faces, chance encounters, and happy surprises. Matt St. John, a junior Politics major, said that there were instances of people meeting relatives whom they had never had the chance to meet before. The group was also surprised by Saint Anselm students currently studying abroad in Europe—and for one student, by parents who surprised their daughter by showing up for a concert in Zurich.

Despite motion sickness, canceled flights, and sprained ankles, the trip was one to remember by all who attended.  St, John called the week a “phenomenal experience” and said that he came home with a deeper appreciation for both Europe and America.

Always Remember

March 7, 2008

Thursday was tour day for the group.

Loading into the Re-Member bus, the team had high spirits after two days of service, and five days of learning on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The family dinners, group seminars and months of preparation on campus had prepared individuals as best as could be expected…but being on the ground, connecting faces to the stories, and seeing life here first hand brings new context to the experience.

IMG_0707.JPGThis week, students went outside their comfort zone; they experienced anger, hope, disbelief and pride. They saw things, heard things, and did things for which no one could prepare. Yet, they leave with an overwhelming sense of hope, diminished only by the desire that they could have done more while they were here.

Someone who had never picked up a power tool was sanding square edges on plywood minutes later. Drywall repair became a trade skill. Building, and installing an outhouse door became possible. The group learned about themselves, their peers, their understanding of American history, and their ability to make a difference. They will always remember.

Driving through Pine Ridge on Thursday and looking down side streets with windowless homes, junked cars, and trash-strewn sidewalks, it was easy to forget we were in the middle of the United States. In fact, this experience was set in the middle of Pine Ridge, the service center of the reservation, where the only hospital, the only supermarket, and many of the only public services are available for an area roughly the size of Connecticut.

We will all remember the names, the faces, and the stories that have been relayed to us while we were here. We will remember the work that was done, and the hope of the Lakota people. We will remember the family in Porcupine with a new door for their outhouse, and we will remember Kevin, and his overwhelming perseverance to do whatever it took to feed his family.

We will remember the staff here: Tom, Phil, Jerry, Jerome, Theresa, Abby and Vicki - all of whom went out of their way to make our time here memorable and comfortable. Whether it was waiting up until after 1 a.m. to welcome the group upon it’s arrival, to boiling another pot of water for hot chocolate, or offering personal reflections and stories during times of emotional unrest…we will never forget their antics, their companionship and the empowerment they offered.

IMG_0545.JPG Today we depart Pine Ridge, but we will always have a piece of this reservation with us. From the incredible panoramic views at the Badlands, to the incredible stories we were told, we will always carry these pictures and words with us; we will always remember.

On Friday, the group will depart the Pine Ridge Reservation en route to Mount Rushmore, before returning to Rapid City in advance of their return to Saint Anselm College on Saturday.

Follow Spring Break Alternative from South Dakota

March 3, 2008

Welcome to the Spring Break Alternative (SBA) “SoDak” Blog. In the coming week, I will travel with, and report on a group of Saint Anselm College students who are volunteering with “Re-Member,” a group based in Pine Ridge, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Each year, Saint Anselm College, through the office of Campus Ministry, has been sending students to sites across the United States, and abroad to spend their spring break in an alternative fashion from the traditional warm and sunny beaches.

Students work with host organizations at each site, doing everything from building bunk beds to serving in soup kitchens. This year, groups are traveling to locations ranging from Costa Rica, to Maine, Louisiana and South Dakota. In full, some 200 Saint Anselm students will be participating in the program this year.

So sit back, and enjoy the experience of being an extended part of SBA: SoDak!

*****

An introduction to your reporter: A member of the Class of 2009 and a Politics major from Augusta, Maine, Cory True is a new media reporter for the Saint Anselm College Office of College Communications and Marketing.

In a first for Saint Anselm College, Cory will report on this SBA trip as an “embedded reporter.” Loaded down with eight bags of equipment, Cory will feature the day-to-day work of the group while capturing the broader experience via audio, video, photography and extensive blogging.

Abbey Players Mark 25 Years with Shenanigans

February 8, 2008

Cast of Soap OperaSaint Anselm College’s Abbey Players proudly present this year’s 25th One Act Play Festival, entitled Shenanigans, performed February 7-9 at the Dana Center. Read more

The Power of a Dream

January 25, 2008

Rev. HamiltonRev. Hurmond Hamilton was just a small boy sitting in a little, red rocking chair when the image of a man flashed across the television screen. The man was giving a speech and sharing his dream. Hamilton didn’t know it then, but the image he was watching was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his famous “I have a dream” speech. Young Hamilton was also unaware that this man and his vision would be the backdrop to his entire life.

Rev. Hamilton gave a moving speech to members of the Saint Anselm College community on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21, in which he shared his own personal “Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Rev. Hamilton’s inspirational life story was heavily influenced by Dr. King and the power of integration which he experienced as a boy growing up in Louisiana.

Hamilton struggled as a child, both physically with his scarred face, and socially, by acting out in school. He soon combined the inspirational power of Dr. King with that of faith, and since that moment, his life has been on an “upward dreaming track.”

Hamilton’s inspirational story includes a remarkable turn-around from a kid always in trouble to a person with real potential and the power to affect change. He won national essay contests and a trip to China. He went to college where he became student body president. He attended seminary and became the pastor of a Roxbury, Mass. parish.

His small parish combined their dreaming power and raised enough money to complete major renovations on the building. He is also the president of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, which works across race and class to bring people together to fight for the good of the community.

And the inspiration for it all? That’s easy. Hamilton says, “With the backdrop of Martin Luther King, Jr., miracles can happen.” Dr. King’s actions as a backdrop fundamentally changed Hamilton’s life for the better. His parallel vision to that of Dr, King allowed him to achieve beyond what he thought possible.

Window to Opportunity

January 23, 2008

Coming back on campus this semester was such a strange transition. The campus no longer held the infamous Fox Box and we could no longer enter Cushing and encounter hundreds of celebrities hanging out and having coffee. It was only on returning to campus that I fell to a very intimate, bittersweet realization- I would never have the experience of working the NH Primary debates on the Saint Anselm College campus again. It was also at this moment, though, that it really hit me how incredible of an opportunity all of us had been able to have that week, and that it would most certainly be something that we would never forget.

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