I have been on the Board of SACIV for many years, and time and again, when I am involved with any of our visitor groups, it opens a new window in understanding different cultures and creates joyous moments in getting close to interesting people.
One of these wondrous opportunities for me presented itself when I recently had the pleasure of accompanying 8 musicians and officials promoting music in their countries. Since they were from the Middle East and North Africa (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco) I expected at least some tense moments due to our current global frictions. But to the contrary – theirs and our music proved to be the “ice breaker” and a fabulous tool for reaching out to each other. As they interacted with several musical organizations and groups here in San Antonio they created instant jamming sessions wherever they went. As they started their investigative tour the first morning, everybody looked bone tired. This changed visibly when they got comfortable at the dance and music school of Urban 15. When the director brought out drums and other instruments, they started feeling at home. First, the Jordanian music teacher could not resist a try at one of our indigenous drums, and all of the sudden the entire group made music, including some amazing singing by the vocalist from Algeria. The Urban 15 musicians just joined in and a musical dialog ensued.
This happened in different ways at the other six venues in town as well. For example, when the group met with the Children's Chorus of SA, the director was so intrigued that she immediately managed to have them tour the Tobin Center between rehearsals. I felt so proud of our city and the warm and inviting nature of our citizens and organizations. Half of the group did not speak any or much English, but everybody made sure to communicate.
They came here for a short three days to see and learn about our ways of weaving music into our daily ways. This was not enough time, but it allowed curiosity to grow, to have a glimpse into our perspective cultures and to get to know each other a little bit. To be able to forge international relationships on an individual basis makes our council so very special. It is an honor and a privilege to serve on the board of SACIV and get the opportunity to help a little in unifying our seemingly discordant world.