News & Resources
Ambassadors’ 2021 Online Musical Pen Pal Project
After the first installation of our Pen Pal Project in 2021, the Ensemble Ambassadors are launching the program once more—this time with 30 participants across seven countries!
The pen pals were matched two weeks ago and have been getting to know each other through weekly guided conversation prompts. Last Saturday, however, we held our first big group meeting on Zoom, where we performed a “composition relay”: each person played a musical phrase before passing it on to the next student, until everyone had contributed. Below are two Ambassador reflections on their experiences with the Pen Pal Project, and an excerpt from the relay:
Helen Faucher (Canada)
Planning and recruiting people to take part in the Pen Pal Project was a little difficult, as I am not always the most outgoing person. I decided to ask people individually so as to make those conversations less anxiety-inducing and more specific to each person.
As for the big group meeting—I had a great amount of fun! As someone who sometimes struggles to take charge, this was a really friendly environment to practice my leadership skills as an Ambassador.
Improvisation is a difficult skill, so the composition relay certainly proved to be a challenge for me. Still, it makes me so happy and proud to have members of my program take part and represent who we are with such talent and enthusiasm!
Overall, this whole experience was very helpful for my social skills and confidence, and it forced me to get out of my comfort zone in many ways, for which I’m thankful.
Stephen Ongoma (Kenya)
I had a different sort of experience with the Zoom meeting. Yes, the Internet has helped us realize this year’s Pen Pal Project, but it also led to some issues for me. Lagging, bad call quality, and spotty connection are examples of the challenges that I got to personally experience. It was frustrating that I could not fully participate in the activities we planned, but these challenges help us Ambassadors grow and come up with solutions in such difficult moments—with each other, and in our music programs across the world.