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Special Series: Music Volunteer Family in the Galapagos Issue 1, “The Plan”

From September 2014 to January 2015, Performing Arts Abroad is hosting a family of four in the Galapagos Islands for a music volunteer program.  This family is no newcomer to the idea…they have played together for years as “Kentucky T. Dutchersmith and the Rubber Band” and lived abroad in Mexico for a six-week service learning project several years ago.  The father, Kent, is a music teacher in the school system of Goshen, Indiana.  On PAA’s program, they will be volunteering teaching music to local school children.  Enjoy this special series as we follow this family’s musical adventure in the Galapagos!

Friday, September 19th, 2014

My wife, Teresa, and I have had a number of cross cultural service experiences.  Although we are certainly not experts, we have learned a few things over the years. In preparing our daughters, Magdalena (16) and Luisa (12), for entering another culture, some of the things they heard me say included things such as “be flexible” and “expect the unexpected.”  I guess the girls were listening, because during our first week of work, they were saying those things to me. Here is a timeline of our assignment and how it unexpectedly developed over the week:

Before arriving: The plan–teach music to 6-13 year olds.

Upon arrival: New plan–teach music to high school students.

Monday: went to the high school to have a meeting, which turned out to be a presentation in front of high schoolers who had the choice between music, art and English. Our assignment: teach students music that they can then perform in the center of town/tourist district.

Tuesday: class went well, but was 30 min. instead of the 80 min. we were told.

Wednesday: 5 min. before class, the teacher from the school tells us that we’re not supposed to come with a lesson plan, rather we need to take student’s ideas and start from scratch. New plan! He said that they had started writing a song (which no one in the class admitted to) that had something to do with the turtle mural that the art class was going to be creating. Class did not go so well this day, but luckily it ended earlier than it was supposed to again. William, our program director, was very frustrated with the school when he heard this. This new plan was not the plan he had made with them.

Magdalena leading some adorably besweatpantsed kindergardeners.

Magdalena leading some adorably besweatpantsed kindergardeners.

Thursday: We went to a large preschool and taught music to 7 of the 8 classes as a trial. It went really well, and after just a few classes, they wanted us there everyday! Met with William and the teachers. New plan! We have new schedule and won’t be going to the high school. We will go to “Pre-kinder” (ages 3-5) everyday and teach music to all 8 classes 3 times a week!

Friday: We started with our new schedule and it’s a great fit!

Next Week: We will only teach 5 year olds because the 3-4 year olds have parent teacher conferences all week.

The 2 Weeks after that: vacation for all students, but we will begin an elementary music program that will become an after school program after vacation. After that, we will have “Pre-kinder” classes in the morning and elementary after school program in the afternoon.

taking charge

Luisa taking charge.

Wow! What a week. On one hand it seemed like a crazy week (especially Wednesday), but on the other hand it seemed pretty typical of the kind of things that can happen when you are trying to figure out your role in another culture. Looking back on the week, I think that’s what the plan was all along, to see where the need is and what the best fit is.

Written by Kent Dutchersmith

Father of the Dutchersmith family, music volunteers in the Galapagos Islands

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