Strangers in a Strange Land
In the course of planning a concert tour, the knowledge, expertise and kindness of strangers is an invaluable element. The hospitality shown by hotel staff, coach drivers, couriers and concert hosts is an intangible thing. It can’t be booked on the internet, it can’t be budgeted into a tour, and it can’t be taken for granted. Every year, ACFEA sends dozens of groups and thousands of human beings around the globe, and it’s that welcome — those open arms — that turn an exercise in tourism into a life-changing, culture-crossing experience.
Over the past year, a light has been shined on how countries, organizations and individuals themselves respond to the needs of others, specifically refugees, but our encouragement of groups reaching out to and supporting refugees isn’t new.
In 2016, the Georgetown Day School Choir sang for refugees at one of the largest shelters in Berlin. This past year, the West Village Chorale raised money for Actions Refugiés Montréal (part of Canadian Council for Refugees) at their concert in Montreal. In Erfurt, the Davenport First Presbyterian Church Choir raised money to, in part, fund a refugee project supporting children and mothers in one concert, and performed another in Wettin which was filmed and made into a short documentary by a local station which employs refugees, teaching them how to make films and present shows. Also in 2018, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus spent an entire day in South Africa meeting and interacting with LGBTI refugees from other African nations, hearing harrowing stories of their journeys. (Read more about their tour here.)
Are the needs of refugees on the same level as a group who needs a host choir in Spain? Obviously, no. But we can’t help but look at the way that we, as a relatively unscathed people, accept the offerings of people all over the world with a smile and a thank you. By reminding ourselves of the needs of others, we can make a point to return these kindnesses in our own ways.
–Amanda Bauman, Senior Tour Manager