On the last day of our trip, it’s hard to truly process everything that has happened. We had an amazing cultural and musical exchange with the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic – all of which were so eager to welcome us into their lives. However, as a freshman who has only just survived my first semester at Cornell, I learned about another group of incredibly warm and welcoming people: I discovered the true character of the CU Winds Family.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew the Wind Ensemble was amazing before this trip – everyone was super nice from day 1 and the flute section always eats dinner together after rehearsals – but it’s not quite the same as spending a weeklong adventure in a foreign country. Admittedly, I was more than a little nervous about this trip; between malaria, typhoid, and everything else Gannett warned us about, I’m just glad to be returning to the U.S. in one piece! Yet I realized that there was also an underlying fear about spending an extended period of time with a group I had only known for 3-4 months. Any upperclassmen who had been part of the CU Winds Fam for more than one semester would have a nice friend group already – but a freshman? It was a crazy trust exercise that terrified me.
But here we are, a week after arriving in Haiti and about to head home as a much closer-knit ensemble. Yesterday I heard someone ask, “Like, how much do we love eachother now?”
“A lot!” we all agreed.
And it’s true. After several 10-hour bus rides, too much idle time waiting for things to begin, and collective exhaustion from travelling, we had to look out for eachother. Standing in line for the one bathroom at a tiny gas station rest-stop, we bonded over our unfortunate stomach problems. People readily shared Advil, Dramamine, Pepto Bismol, toilet paper, and bug spray whenever there was a need. We were able to hold meaningful conversations with people from other sections without the normal pressure of looming homework and papers that is ever-present during semester. By the end of this tour, I recognized that everyone in the ensemble was concerned with the well-being of others, because this group is filled with such kind and caring people.
So, in addition to everything that has been mentioned in previous blog posts, there is one huge thing I will take away from this trip: that all are welcome in the CU Winds Fam. Cornellians, Haitians, and even freshmen.
–Emma Cijka, flute