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stories
Read the touching stories from both the Young American cast and the family’s they stay with while on tour. Learn more about the unique activities and events that make up the music outreach tour experience.
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Beauty Still Exists in Disaster. | Featured Story | Japan Tour – Fall 2011

Imagine one of the most beautiful rocky coast lines perhaps in the world. Where the mountains are filled with lush, deep green trees. Where the white capped waves roll over mini rock islands, and the water is a deep royal blue. The fish and fruits in the market are so fresh you would think you had picked them with their own hands.

JapanOceanThen on what seemed to be a normal spring morning your whole world literally gets flipped upside down. In an instant life once again becomes the most important thing.

Our journey up here was surreal to say the least. All of us trying to stay our charismatic selves, keeping in good spirits all the while with butterflies in our stomachs because no one knew what to expect. Driving by the natural beauty that is Japan, only to be reminded by signs to Sendai and Ishinomaki, (some of the areas with the worst earthquake and tsunami damage) That we were heading towards a site none of us had ever seen first hand.

There are really no words to express what we drive by everyday on the way to a workshop, just 100 miles of nothing. It almost doesn’t feel real sometimes. It’s like you’re on some Will Smith blockbuster set where everything around you has been destroyed and you’re waiting for the hero to save the day. Only there is no one person to do this job, and nothing can bring life back to the people who lost it.

Buses don’t belong on rooftops.Houses don’t belong upside down, trains don’t belong in a crop field. And this is AFTER 6 MONTHS of clean up.

JapanRuinsThen there is the beauty. Beauty in the countryside and the now calming sound of ocean. Beauty in the people getting off the volunteer buses in the crazy heat to continue to clean up the mess. Beauty in the little old ladies tending to their freshly laid out gardens or crops. Beauty in people loving their home space so much that they are willing to sleep in a tent next to the remains of their house while construction continues on their new one. Beauty in the little kids we have worked with so far, who think we’re some kind of weird alien but will laugh with us anyway. Beauty in the people of Japan who accept this horror and move on with love left in their hearts.

This month is not about how many times we can teach kids a song or dance. It is about growing as people and sharing moments of joy, pain, and love with those whom our paths are lucky enough to cross. The power to give when you have nothing. This is what is being taught to me. The love that’s being spilled upon us is unlike anything I have ever experienced. And all I can hope ours can be felt in return.

Yesterday we worked with kids who are living in one of the many shelters in the area. Here we played games, baked cookies, made origami animals, and just had FUN! When we are at these shelters we are working with a tsunami relief group called “Project Yui”. Since April they have been coming up to these areas, collecting everything from food and water to everyday house hold goods. Then they pass everything out to places such as these shelters. Not only are they doing this relief work but are also making a huge amount of time to play with kids. (Kind of like an afternoon YMCA program.) We even have been working with some Project Yui members that participated in YA workshops last year!

Today we move from our hotel to a hostel for 3 days and 3 nights as we prepare to do workshops with 3rd and 4th graders, and then the next day 1st and 2nd graders. AKA arguably the cutest little “nuggets” (YA slang for small children) ever :) There is nothing like hearing the pure joy in a child’s laugh, ah yes we are the lucky ones.

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Beauty Still Exists in Disaster. | Featured Story | Japan Tour – Fall 2011

Imagine one of the most beautiful rocky coast lines perhaps in the world. Where the mountains are filled with lush, deep green trees. Where the white capped waves roll over mini rock islands, and the water is a deep royal blue. The fish and fruits in the market are so fresh you would think you had picked them with their own hands.

JapanOceanThen on what seemed to be a normal spring morning your whole world literally gets flipped upside down. In an instant life once again becomes the most important thing.

Our journey up here was surreal to say the least. All of us trying to stay our charismatic selves, keeping in good spirits all the while with butterflies in our stomachs because no one knew what to expect. Driving by the natural beauty that is Japan, only to be reminded by signs to Sendai and Ishinomaki, (some of the areas with the worst earthquake and tsunami damage) That we were heading towards a site none of us had ever seen first hand.

There are really no words to express what we drive by everyday on the way to a workshop, just 100 miles of nothing. It almost doesn’t feel real sometimes. It’s like you’re on some Will Smith blockbuster set where everything around you has been destroyed and you’re waiting for the hero to save the day. Only there is no one person to do this job, and nothing can bring life back to the people who lost it.

Buses don’t belong on rooftops.Houses don’t belong upside down, trains don’t belong in a crop field. And this is AFTER 6 MONTHS of clean up.

JapanRuinsThen there is the beauty. Beauty in the countryside and the now calming sound of ocean. Beauty in the people getting off the volunteer buses in the crazy heat to continue to clean up the mess. Beauty in the little old ladies tending to their freshly laid out gardens or crops. Beauty in people loving their home space so much that they are willing to sleep in a tent next to the remains of their house while construction continues on their new one. Beauty in the little kids we have worked with so far, who think we’re some kind of weird alien but will laugh with us anyway. Beauty in the people of Japan who accept this horror and move on with love left in their hearts.

This month is not about how many times we can teach kids a song or dance. It is about growing as people and sharing moments of joy, pain, and love with those whom our paths are lucky enough to cross. The power to give when you have nothing. This is what is being taught to me. The love that’s being spilled upon us is unlike anything I have ever experienced. And all I can hope ours can be felt in return.

Yesterday we worked with kids who are living in one of the many shelters in the area. Here we played games, baked cookies, made origami animals, and just had FUN! When we are at these shelters we are working with a tsunami relief group called “Project Yui”. Since April they have been coming up to these areas, collecting everything from food and water to everyday house hold goods. Then they pass everything out to places such as these shelters. Not only are they doing this relief work but are also making a huge amount of time to play with kids. (Kind of like an afternoon YMCA program.) We even have been working with some Project Yui members that participated in YA workshops last year!

Today we move from our hotel to a hostel for 3 days and 3 nights as we prepare to do workshops with 3rd and 4th graders, and then the next day 1st and 2nd graders. AKA arguably the cutest little “nuggets” (YA slang for small children) ever :) There is nothing like hearing the pure joy in a child’s laugh, ah yes we are the lucky ones.

SW-rosalie
Workshop in Kassel. | Story of the Week: Europe Tour – Summer 2011
KASSEL, GERMANY

workshop 1Our second workshop in Germany was a great success with over 275 students in Kassel!

When we arrived the school’s choir sang for us some pieces that they had been working on, Viva la Vida and The Lion Sleeps Tonight! We knew right away that this was going to be an amazing workshop, all of the students were very excited to get started! One inspiring little girl in particular stole the hearts of all the Young Americans. Her name is Begum she is 10 years old and lives with a bone disorder which requires the aid of a wheelchair. She was often up dancing along with whatever music was playing and she would have everyone dancing with her.

She learned a solo with Bekah Jordan and this is what she had to say about the experience:
“I had the honour and privilege of getting to teach Begum a singing solo in the show and although I may have been teaching her text and notes, she taught me so much more. She had so much life and enthusiasm and love for everything she did. At the end of the workshop she she told me thank you for for teaching her and letting her sing, but really I wanted to say thank you because she taught me so much about myself. She taught me that no one should just sit down because no matter what your struggle is, you can always overcome it.”
We did two shows and they were both wonderful! We loved our time in Kassel!

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Story of the Week: [not your average] Summer Camp – USA

The Summer Camp is approaching fast and we wanted to remember some of the great stories from last year to get us ready and excited for what’s to come this year!

I know I speak for all the Young Americans when I say our lives have been changed because of you all. I know that if we wanted you to take one thing away from camp it would be, you are all beautiful, talented and strong people. The only thing you have to do is reach inside yourself and show it to the world. And on a personal note, thank you for sharing your beautiful souls with me. -Bri K-

Beyond Be something. Be amazing. Be beyond. Beyond the world, beyond the stars. Be beyond whoever you are. Be what you want do whatever you feel, because when your beyond, you have the power to heal, heal a wound, heal the weak, heal the sorrowful, be unique. Be proud of that you believe in. Be strong, and don’t ever give in. Be fearless, be strong, but most of all be beyond. -Stef Baumert-
The Doors Beyond this day is another Beyond the door is our family Even those who aren’t our brothers Beyond my world is yours After that are even more doors Doors that veil love, hate, and more It cannot tell you what’s beyond every door For I have not opened each of my own But I can tell you this With love from so many, you must open each one alone. - T.G. -
Beyond, a word that means so much more Hard to believe how many people it can touch Everyone being things thinking that they won’t turn out good But every time after great to try to keep a positive mood Knowing you did something amazing at the time so good Maybe should be called a crime That is why you should go beyond, outside your shell -Carlos-
Past the doubt, past the fear Past the words of “I can’t” and “who else is here” Apart from the hate, the lies and tears. Holding true to yourself, despite all the rest There is no anger, no unhappiness There is only you, in all that you are You, yourself, alone and unafraid In the place where dreams are made Surrounded by silence, acceptance and love, You listen to the music that is always there unheard above Above, above, the noise of day-you don’t have listen There is nothing you have to say Simply be yourself in all you are For beyond the confusion You’re safe as yourself whoever you are -Oliver Newton-
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