By Violist Tiffany Richardson
Embarking on our trip to Costa Rica knowing VERY little Spanish, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was so excited to work with the students and perform with my amazing colleagues, but I just couldn’t imagine how communication would go. I have to admit, learning my very sweet host mom didn’t speak a word of English was a little scary at first. But over the course of the next three days, I was energized! Communicating through “sign language,” with a dictionary in hand, and through music, anything was possible. Even though my understanding of the Spanish language is minimal, I felt like I was truly able to connect with everyone, and became a part of the community.
Between our generous host families and the amazing students and teachers we met, we were received everywhere with such warmth. The passion the students possess is truly inspiring. I was awestruck by the stories of the students learning so much, but still having a lack of resources. Although SINEM is a government-funded program, we learned that there is still scarcity of music, instruments, and proper supplies. The students approach music with such passion that these issues were merely hurdles, which they faced fearlessly in their journey through music.
We all had the privilege of witnessing that SINEM creates a home, a community, and a family for the students and families, and we were so wonderfully welcomed to this community. Every program possessed a strong culture of support between fellow students. The older students mentor and teach the younger students, and you can see clearly that this helps the older students gain responsibility, leadership, and maturity. There’s a culture of encouragement and collaboration in SINEM, that should be present throughout the worldwide musical community. For me, this entire experience reaffirmed that we can all connect through music, and it is our responsibility as performers to contribute this to our communities.