Thursday, August 30, 2012


Wow these days are a whirlwind! Even I (yes it's possible) can be exhausted. I actually opted out of a yoga class to come back to the place I'm staying and have some chill/alone time. Being surrounded by people constantly is great and I am so looking forward to a wonderful year, but it's really nice to do my own thing once in awhile. It's so cool to be surrounded by people from literally all over the world and even though four of the fellows are orig from CA, they all have completely diverse backgrounds. Hearing where everyone had lived the first day, I think we were only missing Antarctica. All the faculty are incredibly supportive and the words "Abreu fellow" (the old name of Sistema fellow) is gold.

I wish there were more to report, but aside from the stress of finding a home (which, fingers crossed, I think I've FINALLY attained 2.5 months later) and lots and lots of introductions/orientation activities including the typical speeches, slideshows, fairs, tours, and the unconventional Sam Adams brewery tour, sunset cruise, and pub crawl, I can only give my first impressions. My favorite is when I introduce myself to a grad student and have to explain what a Sistema Fellow is (so far my working definition is learning how to set up music programs in underprivileged neighborhoods and usually giving them the link to watch Dr. Abreu).

Everyone is awesome. I won't lie, it will be difficult with 8 women and 2 guys. Per normal, I gravitate towards the guys though after a friend told me I give off masculine energy I suppose that makes sense. I'm continuing to bike everywhere and make new friends. I'm staying with a gracious friend of one of the fellows from Brazil who is not only moving out on Fri, but also insisted we cook a meal last night-he suggested pasta-which meant homemade sauce, and I made a salad and bought some fresh watermelon. Delish!

As far as my resolution is going, I would say it's more or less at that stagnant phase though when I was in MN I did what I wanted, knowing full well there could/(was warned there would) be repercussions. But after some conversations they got hammered out and everyone understood in the end. The fact is I didn't let someone tell me what I should/shouldn't do and BIG NEWS: I DIDN"T FEEL GUILT OR APOLOGIZE for what I did.. It's important to live a balanced life-everyone should work AND play hard. This second part of the phrase so often dissipates and I strive to not suffer that same fate.

The Boundary Waters (both times) were a wonderful escape. When I went to PA for my gpa's 80th bd I had a mild nervous freakout sesh when I didn't have housing, but after that decided it would turn out (se van a salir mentality), there was nothing I could do to change it, and worrying about it would do nothing productive. So both times I went into the bliss of the BWCA with calmness, and only let myself be immersed in the callings of the loon, the endurance of a 460 rod (1+ mile) portage, the Perseids meteor shower, the strokes of the canoe paddle,the innovation to try things like Tang-covered smores, and building relationships with the people I went with. I also feel I've moved on from the "camp counselor" time in life completely. We had a great group and I was extremely thankful for that, but trying to relate to people 6 years younger than you while possible just seems pointless as I will never see them again. It was great to see new friendships forming though and watch the impact of teamwork and memories be cherished.

The one concept I continued to return to in my journal and the reason I think any team (a marriage, an exec team, a family, whomever) should do an excursion like this is that it is one of few places where what one individual does or doesn't do affects everyone. If someone reads a map wrong, you can get pissed and tell them how stupid they are. But that does nothing. In our daily lives (I hate using the phrase "the real world"), that "stupid" person would be fired or have to suffer the consequences for only themselves, whereas in this environment where everyone is eating, doing, and possessing the same things, it is quite powerful. Watching my dear brother go from sleeping in and doing nothing to pitch in in the morning to waking up when everyone else did and truly helping was really meaningful to see. Of course there are people who are more natural leaders than others, but everyone truly pitched in and overcame blisters, bug bites, soreness, and whatever else, to be a rock solid team and stronger family/freshman class.

I'm sure there will be much more to tell as our calendar fills up, but right now school is pretty what you would expect. It will be really interesting and impactful to have a program director who is a seven year employee of a community music program (pre-EL SIstema USA). I'm stoked! No expectations-here we go!!!

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