The Ambassadors’ Exchange: Getting to Know Each Other

The Ensemble seeks to connect and inform all people who are committed to ensemble music education for youth empowerment and social change.

The Ambassadors’ Exchange: Getting to Know Each Other


Our Ambassador cohort has been getting to know one another in preparation for our upcoming Pen Pal Project! Here are some of their reflections and first impressions of cross-cultural commonalities through music.

May “Molly” Thet Htarr (Myanmar) with Tamara Castillo (Utah, U.S.)

Molly: Tamara’s program is big and certified enough to be brought into her school. It seems really fun to have so many elementary students in the program—I think it brings much more laughter into their community. With so many string musicians, they could easily create an orchestra. The students in my program have played in many orchestras before, too—I think that is one common thing between our programs, which makes it easier for us to understand each other and work together. And of course we share a passion for music.

Brianna Herrera (Pennsylvania, U.S.) with Esteban Molina (Colombia)

Brianna and Esteban getting to know each other.

Brianna: I learned that Esteban is from Iberacademy, based in Medellín, Colombia. He is part of a full orchestra that features over 100 students. His program rehearses once a month from Monday–Friday and plays magnificent shows. He says that he loves his city, whose many buildings are alive with plants everywhere. His favorite memory was when he was 15, performing his first concert with the symphony; it was the moment he was inspired and wanted to do music as a career.

Esteban: The name of Brianna’s program is called El Sistema Lehigh Valley. When she was a kid, she went to her school’s open house to enroll in an after-school program. That is where the director was stationed, and she was excited to enroll and play the violin. Ever since then she has been in the program for 11 years. Her program consists of around 70 students, ranging from kindergarten to high school. They rehearse Monday–Friday every day after school from 3:30–6:00 p.m. Her favorite memory was when she played with El Sistema NY. She likes her city and thinks it is beautiful. We found out that we are both the same age!

Nejla Salihovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) with Nicolas Lau (California, U.S.)

Nicolas (five from the left) poses with ELM bandmates after a performance.

Nejla: Nicolas’ program is called Enriching Lives through Music (ELM). He joined it because it was a local program, and his parents suggested that he try it out. Also, it was free. In fact, both of us joined our programs in nearly the same ways. He has been a part of the program for 10 years, and his program has around 180 students. They usually rehearse two times on weekdays (sectional) and have rehearsals with the orchestra on Saturdays. His favorite memory is the first time they played together in a local concert for their parents.

One thing that we have in common is the similar towns we live in. Both are smaller towns, a bit spaced out, peaceful and full of nature. But the main difference is that some parts of his town are filled with violence.



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