Jennifer Drake ’11 of Salisbury
- What was your favorite experience on this trip?
“I had two favorite experiences on this trip. One was in the little church in the meadow, Weiss Kirsche. When we came in and sang at the end of mass, we really touched some of the people there. One woman, sitting a few pews to the left of me, wearing a shirt with mushrooms on it, was particularly moved. I watched her as we sang, and the expressions on her face, varying from closed-eye, quiet wonder, to delight, to freely flowing tears were deeply moving. I connected with this woman. She applauded so fiercely and looked so ecstatic as we finished, and I had to go up to her to shake her hand. As I reached out, she took my hand and pulled me into a hug. She told me that we “made her very glad” and thanked me effusively many times. Knowing that I had been a part of creating the music that had created the gratitude and emotion in her was absolutely beautiful. My other favorite meaning moment was singing “Laudaute Dominum” in the Helig Geist in Salzburg. Singing a piece written by Mozart in the cathedral that he worked in, being conducted by the current director, was awesome in the original sense of the word. Watching Michelle (Chaffee) and Ginny (Weant) sing the solo, watching Nicu (Brouilette) cry as he played the violin, and feeling the incredible connection with Professor Oakley, the whole choir, the remaining congregation, with the wonderful conductor, and with history, was magnificent and inspiring.”
- How has your perspective changed on this trip?
“One major thing that I noticed was the different scope of history one finds in Europe. There is a much larger context to history there. It is easy to forget that the U.S. is such a young country. Seeing churches, monuments and buildings that have been in existences almost five times as long as our country has been established was eye-opening. Our host mother showed Michelle and I a bakery that has been in the family for over seven hundred years, and in that building for over five hundred. I also was interested in the freshness and healthiness of most of the food we ate, as well as the bigger role beer and wine played in most meals. I also gained a healthy appreciation for two things we take for granted at home – the opportunity to use the restroom for free, and free water and refills. One other moment that was interesting and a little uncomfortable was in Wangen. Our host family asked us where we would be singing the next day and we told them Dachau. They became very somber and somewhat defensive, though we in no way intended to make them uncomfortable. Seeing the relic of the Second World War engrained in the German culture was very interesting.”
- What have you learned through your experiences?
“There were four main experiences that provided learning opportunities that could never have been afforded in books: St. Hildegard's Abbey, the Heilig Geist cathedral where Mozart worked, Dachau, and the American cemetery at Normandy. After learning about Hildegard’s amazing accomplishments in both Music History I and Psalms, Hymns, and spiritual Songs I, learning even more about her at the Abbey and seeing the fantastic iconic artwork inside the chapel was fantastic. Seeing the organ Mozart played, going to the grand old foundations of the church was marvelous. Learning about Mozart and early practices and history of the church from the conductor was an experience I will never forget. This kind of context can never be gained from a text book or lecture. Seeing firsthand the site of such atrocities was a heart-wrenching experience. Learning facts and figures about what happened there had such a terrible impact because we were there. It was interesting to see what was and was not included and stressed in the movie we watched (at Dachau). Finally, or perhaps firstly, Normandy. My grandfather immigrated from Poland with his family not too long before World War II. He also was enlisted in the Air Force and fought at the end of WWII. He told me about some of his experiences, and it was very striking to be on the site of such an enormous battle and staggering to see all of the graves. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotional impact of that moment.”