Over the past couple weeks, I have had the incredible opportunity to tour Mexico and Cuba with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. Under the overarching theme of “Music that Dances”, we performed sold-out concerts, learned more about the rich heritage of these countries, and engaged in friendly cultural exchange with fellow artists and musicians.
As student-musicians from Stanford, we represented ourselves, Stanford University, and the United States as a whole to the people we interacted with. I kept these associations in mind, regardless of whether my iPhone camera or violin was in hand; people were evaluating us not only on our musicianship, but also actively comparing us against their prior knowledge and beliefs about people from the United States. On the flip side, I, too was able to reevaluate my assumptions and beliefs about the places I visited as I met more of the local people.
As a tourist, I got to wander many different sites: Teotihuacan, Old Havana, downtown Guanajuato, Zócalo, and the Museo Nacional, to name a few. As a musician, I got to perform at Templo Oratorio in Guanajuato, Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Mexican Senate in Mexico City, and the Teatro Nacional in Havana, Cuba. As a person, this was the longest I’ve ever spent outside the United States. After coming back, I’m certainly more thankful for things that we take for granted here, and I think I better appreciate just how important spending time elsewhere in the world is for one’s personal growth and maturity.
To learn about each place I visited, check out the links below: