Seven years ago, I embarked on my first oversees adventure with the Lone Star International Jazz Exchange (aka Pink Jazz). It was a musical exchange in which students from the U.S. played with students from Kepler Gymnasium in Germany and a few French musicians from Gourdon, France. It was an experience of a lifetime playing the universal language of music in an international setting. We travelled throughout Germany and France on a tour bus playing concerts for eager crowds of jazz loving Europeans.
Although I rarely pick up my trumpet anymore, the exchange lives on with the people and places that I met and visited.
I first met Deike when the Lone Star International team hosted the exchange in Fort Worth, Texas at Texas Wesleyan University. I made friends with many of the German students but one in particular named Deike. We went our separate ways after the exchange. The next year when Ibbenbüren, Germany hosted the exchange at Kepler Gymnasium, Deike and I were able to meet up and experience the exchange from the other side of the world.
That same summer in Ibbenbüren I met the Rattay family. Tim played the saxophone ,his sister Tanja sang in the choir with me, and their younger brother Thilo attended the Gymnasium where we practiced. This was 7 years ago. Four years ago Tim visited my family and I in Texas. Four months ago I visited Tim, Thilo, Herr and Frau Rattay in Germany. This past weekend Tim and Thilo visited my parents in Colorado.
Excuse my reminiscent post, but I cannot help but love exchanges for all the opportunities and friendships that they create. It is very rewarding to keep in touch and watch friends around the world grow up with me. When I visit these friends, I have found that we just continue where you left off last time even if it's been years. Lone Star was just the beginning of my positive exchange experiences. Sister Cities International and University exchanges have kept my international studies interest high. I encourage everyone to go find one in your community and to get involved now!