Emanuel Ringers

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Last Full Day

Today was our last full day in Jeju and in Korea. The last concert, (I think) went pretty well, and a bunch of us ended up being 'social' afterwards. We got lots of pictures and emails with a Hong Kong (or "Honf Konf" according to the program) choir and some Japanese choirs. The closing ceremony was long and Sydney ended up going under the table and poking Akimoto with a fork. We got the bells to the hotel and packed them away in some room somewhere. Then we got fooooooooooooood and went to our rooms, and it was boring... This trip (in my opinion) was a lot better than Liverpool two years ago, except this year we didn't get to ring and sing happy birthday to Akimoto with all the international choirs at the symposium.

Rachel

Symposium Final Day

Today was a very long, exhausting, yet rewarding day. When we got to the ICC we had to saddle up for an abundance of rehearsals. We rehearsed 5 songs from 9-10:15. We then had a 20 min break where we could relax and get some food either in the food court on the ground floor, or at 7/11 on the second floor which is a very popular choice for the kids. After the break we were back at it with the massed ringing rehearsals for 45 min. The pieces were sounding really well as we continued to practice.  After the massed ringing rehearsals we listened to the youth choir that had just met one another the first day of the symposium. After the youth choir practiced we listened to the symposium choir which also had met one another on the first day but were playing like they have been together for years. They played Disney songs that everyone enjoyed and some of us sang along with them. We then had lunch which was an hour and the food was very good. I would have to say the pineapple is amazing! After lunch we had another massed ringing rehearsal that lasted for 2 hours. After rehearsing, we had time to change into our concert attire. The final concert was amazing! The pieces were well conducted and I think we played well! After the concert we had to pack away our bells. Some of us were asked to take pictures with members of the audience and their children when we were packing our bells away which was funny. After bell packing we got ready for the banquet. I think the food was very good at the banquet and some of us made friends with the people we were sitting with. They were all very nice. After the banquet we took our bell cases and books out to load the bus. On the bus ride home we presented gifts and cards to our directors to thank them for what they have done for us on the trip. When we got back to the hotel we unloaded our bells and some of us went back to our rooms to relax and go to bed. 

-Kate

Friday, August 8, 2014

Symposium Day 4

Today was an exciting day because it was one day before the big concert. Because of this, there was a long practice in the morning. We practiced most for our songs for about three hours. Soon there after, we enjoyed the third solo concert of the symposium. We then finished off our final two workshops for Korea. After a great dinner we went on a special trip from the ICC to the beach which was about twenty minutes away. After we returned, we listened to the final solo concert in the main hall.

-Chas

Much happened today on the fourth day of the symposium. After a delicious breakfast provided by the hotel, we boarded our bus (which was "F" for fantastic) and headed down to the ICC. We practiced for a solid two hours or so, where we ran through most of the pieces we will be playing tomorrow. Next, we were treated to a concert of the solos of other bell choirs. After a delicious meal provided by the ICC (spaghetti and sauce, yum yum!) we finished off our assigned workshops. Some of us got to dance like Psy to Gangnam Style while others made hats out of felt that were made to look like bells (everyone but me seemed to make a great hat). Afterwards, we had a great dinner provided by the ICC, and some of us even went down to the beach! Well, it was more of a view of the beach, along with getting sprayed by sea water, but it was fun nonetheless. Unfortunately, though, some of us got TOO close to the beach and had to walk back to the conference center a bit damp. After another solo concert by some choirs we were all tired and ready to head back to our hotel. It's hard to believe that tomorrow is really the symposium! It seemed like it was still two weeks away just yesterday. Despite being a bit under the weather yesterday, I was able to return to the "land of the living" today and take part in all the fun activities. Well, I better finish up now. Big day tomorrow! 

- Jake White

Symposium Day 1

Tuesday was our first full day at Jeju island and our first day at the symposium. We woke up at around 8:45, happy to finally sleep in past 7:30 and after breakfast got on the bus to the convention center where the symposium is being held. When we first got there, we took all our bell cases out of the storage room and began to set up our tables in the main hall. After everyone had set up their tables, which happened to be the front two rows, we all gathered for the opening ceremony. Each country represented was introduced, and the president of handbells for the respective country walked in along with their country's flag. Seeing all of the different country's flags in the front of the room really showed just how big an international event this symposium is.  We then had a massed ringing rehearsal in the main hall.  We played bells for an hour and a half and then had a break, then another hour and a half of bells and a break and another hour and a half and then we had dinner. The dinner was one of the better dinners we had because there were more options to choose from.  We then watched a solo concert from another bell choir here. We then went back on the bus to the hotel and went right to bed because we were exhausted. 

-Allison & Courtney

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Symposium Day 3

"The Amazing Day!" -Issac, 8

Today was an amazing day filled with fun new experiences. We started our day by boarding the bus to the ICC at 8:15 and ringing bells for two and a half hours straight. It was a lot of work, but the pieces are starting to sound really good. Around noon, we got on the bus for our half tour of Jeju Island. We first visited Sanbang Mountain. We climbed up a steep stairway all the way up to a cave. Legend says that an ancient Korean  princess was separated from her husband, so she died in the cave from her sadness. Her "tears" still drip from the cave ceiling, and everyone can drink them for good luck. After we were exhausted from our hike up the mountain, we were refreshed with green tea ice cream at the Green Tea Museum. We then visited beautiful spiritual gardens. We enjoyed feeding multitudes of Carp and Koi and looking at the beautiful plants. Then it was time for dinner which was delicious. After dinner, we went to a show that was described as "fantastic and traditional". It was amazing. It combined traditional dance and drumming with modern humor and music. We all laughed a lot. Rich Bartzick participated (for the second time!) and Jessica and Lexie were also called up to the stage. We had so much fun and today was really amazing. 

-Sonja

So yesterday was pretty cool we had about 2hrs and 30mins of practice which had 20 minute breaks in between that was hard to do because we were all so tired from our concert last night which also happened to be Eileen Lawrence's last performance with my choir. Then after the practice we had a half day tour which was all fine and dandy, but my favorite part was the Korean traditional show I got to give free hugs to an adorable actor and almost lost my voice because I screamed so much. Yesterday was pretty awesome! 

-Lexie

Symposium Day 2

Today our group had a busy day. After eating breakfeast we headed to the symposium. There we practiced our songs for about an hour. It was hard work but very fun. After that everyone at the symposium headed outside for a group photo. There were a lot of people, but we managed to fit everyone in the photo, even with a sign for the symposium. 
      After more practice we ate a provided lunch that was very good. After lunch we had our first and second workshops. The workshops included classes about games, bell skills, food making, and music. I got to make rice cakes and then had a class on high bell technique. After more practice we had one more workshop. There I did a workshop on Hong Kong snacks which was very fun and very tasty.
         After dinner we headed to exhibits by Malmark and Shulmerich (bell companies). They had cool new instruments that we got to try, like a cylinder-shaped bell that was really cool. Then we had our solo concert. Even though I bet we were all kind of intimidated by how good the other choirs were, I think we did pretty well.
       This was also Eileen's last time conducting Katonah Celebration Ringers, so the end of our concert was sad. She said she wouldn't have wanted to end it any other way. After that we headed back to the hotel after a nice long fun day.

-Caleb

The video is by Emmy Okazawa-Bortolin of Canada; Thanks Emmy! 






We woke up around 7 to go to breakfast around 7:40-50. At 8:15 we met in the lobby to get on the bus and head towards the convention center. The day mostly consisted of sore feet because of the constant standing. We sat every chance we got because today was one of the longest days of the symposium. At lunch we went to the restaurant above the food court. My lunch consisted of rice and fruit but I know a lot of people enjoyed a nice Korean dish. After lunch we had our first workshop and mine was Korean folk dance and game. It was very fun we played a "ninja" type game and found ourselves sweating at the end. Next we had our second workshop and a lot of the kids had Canadian culture. Emmy was actually leading this workshop and we had so much fun learning how to count in French along to a Canadian folk dance! After, we had mass ringing for another hour and a half. Finally we had our last workshop and then DINNER. A much needed energy booster was delicious and I especially enjoyed the sushi and hot wings. After dinner we got changed for our solo concert at 8. Most of us were very nervous about playing to some of the best choirs around. Turns out we really had nothing to be worried about and absolutely nailed it. We played "Visions of peace", "Allegro con motto", and "Meditation". We played the pieces beautifully and recieved a boom of applause after. The moment was also bittersweet for the Katonah choir, because that would be the last time they would be under the conduction of Eileen Lawrence. After the concert we were all pretty much ready to hit the bed. The day couldn't have been more tireing, exciting, long, and rewarding.

-Kristen

Jeju tour today

After a half day of intensive rehearsal, we rode bus to southwestern side of Je Ju island to  visit a temple, tea museum (tea ice cream!) and a Bonsai garden.      Dinner was at a restaurant to sample Bul Gogi, a hot pot dish with beef and vegetable.     This was very similar to Japanese Sukiyaki and everyone seems to have enjoyed it.         The last stop of the day was at a theater to view "Fanta Sticks", a drumming variety show.      Lexi, Jessica and Rich (one more time) received thunderous applause from the appreciative audience for their stage appearance.          Again a copy of video was found on Youtube.   Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Yes we are very busy and everyone is ok

We had our solo done this evening as a special solo performance representing US.         This was Eileen's final appearance as our conductor and everyone was especially attentive.         Korea turns out to be a very hospitable country.       Things inadvertently left at hotels are flown in daily to the happy and forgetful owners.             Young ringers are experiencing a world quite different from our home country.            Yes we are very busy and doing quite well.       Detailed reports will be up soon.

Monday, August 4, 2014

To Jeju and two birthday celebration on the way!



Today we made our second attempt to fly to Jeju Island and it was a success. Yay! Today was also Ben and Akimoto's birthday. We left the hotel at six AM in a bus up to Seoul for about six hours and then our flight to Jeju took around an hour to get there. After we arrived we went to a traditional Korean dinner where our table tried a little pepper and almost died from the spiciness. We then left for the Nanta show which is like an Asian Blue Man Group with food. Kate Khouri got married at the show (jjump t acting).  After that we went to our hotel and went to sleep.

- Marth  (aka Akimoto)



Today we (finally) left mainland Korea for Jeju Island, a self-governing province formed many years ago by a volcanic eruption. Being volcanic, the island is very mountainous, with only a thin layer of soil. Temperature and weather can also vary greatly between parts of Jeju that are relatively close to each other. This type of environment is well suited for tangerines, for which this area is famous. Other than that, the main buisnesses on the island are tourism and fishing.
We left from our hotel at 6:00 AM for a five-hour bus ride back to the Gimpo Airport. Akimoto and I received a birthday celebration during the drive, with brownie cookies, sweet buns, and little toy drums generously provided by members of our group. We also watched a Korean movie entitled "Scandal Makers" during the bus ride. While the bus ride was long, the airplane ride was very short. Our new tour guide, a nice man by the name of Chin, met us once we landed and proceeded to tell us three philosophical allegories regarding happiness, love, and friendship.
Some of our party left to help unpack our bells (for which we're very thankful) while the rest of us went to a very nice fish restaurant for dinner. Dinner was followed by a short bus ride to Jeju National College, where we saw a group called "Nanta" perform a piece called "Cookin'," which can best be described as a mix of the Blue Man Group, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and Stomp, with some added Asian flair. It was a really amazing show. We then headed to the hotel and said goodbye to Chin, and acquainted ourselves with the interesting rooming arrangements (i.e. one bed in a room for four and the toilet directly in the shower). That's not to say the rooms are bad; they're actually quite pleasant and spacious, and there's even free Wi-Fi. Tomorrow marks the first day of symposium, so they'll be plenty more to say in upcoming posts.
-Benjamin

We are finally in Jeju


After another 5 hr bus ride, 1 hour flight from Seoul Gimpo airport, we are finally in Jeju.      We missed a day of local tour but a typical Korean dinner and an interesting "cooking" variety show waited for us.     Kate and Rich was picked to participate in the show and everyone enjoyed their performance.   More on this later surely.    HERE is the Youtube highlight of the show.


Here is Kate as a bride in Korean wedding..


And here is Rich in pie making contest.




On Being Flexible

Today, we learned to be flexible- a lot of unplanned things happened. We first drove to Busan Tower where we rode the elevator up all the way to the top. You could see all the parts of the city, even the undeveloped hills which was cool. On the glass it displayed information about direct parts of the city. You could walk down a flight of stairs where there was food and beverages. We then rode the elevator down to the gift shop where there were many cool souvenirs. We left Busan Tower and headed to the UN cemetery. We were originally supposed to visit it yesterday but we couldn't because it was raining. We were able to fit it in today. At the cemetery, we saw 2,300 graves. They were separated into their nations and a flag was flown for each country that lost soldiers in the war. We then watched a video which gave details about the Korean war. We also viewed the monuments and memorabilia related  to the war. It was interesting to receive even more perspective on the war in addition to the DMZ and JSA tours. We then drove to a local fish market that had an abundance of live seafood. It was really cool to see all of the living fish right in front of our eyes. After we explored the fish market, we headed to a pizzeria for lunch. It was fun to eat pizza again after all the new and different Asian foods. Next, we walked through another marketplace filled with handmade items like food, clothes, and cultural items. As we were walking back through the streets, we enjoyed passing pet stores that had adorable puppies in them. After that, we were all ready to catch a flight to Jeju Island. When we got to the airport and checked our luggage, we waited at our gate for a half hour, only to hear that our flight had been canceled due to the aftermath of a typhoon! We called our tour guide Christine back to help us create a new plan. We ended up waiting in the airport for about three hours. To pass the time, some of us played games like cards or volleyball, and also used the Wifi. The new plan was to return to the same hotel we stayed in last night. We plan to take a very early bus ride to Seoul and fly to Jeju from the Seoul airport. We arrived at the hotel and have yet to figure out a way to entertain ourselves until the morning. Today we were truly reminded of the first rule we learned to follow, "Be flexible!" Over and out...

-Kate and Sonja

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Change of plan

What was our first rule - be flexible! 

So our flight from Busan to Jeju was cancelled due to fog in Busan. 

Our plan is to stay at the Commodore hotel in Busan for one more night. 
Tomorrow morning - Aug 4th, we will be taking a bus back to Seoul to catch a flight from Seoul, Gimpo airport to Jeju island. 

flight info - Korean Air 1285. The flight leaves at 1430. 

All is well, we have a place to sleep, our guide returned, made hotel accommodations, bus transport to the hotel and a bus back to Seoul. 

Thanks! 

Eiko 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Gyeongju to Busan

Despite the bad weather our group got to see a lot of cool things. After getting up and having breakfast we headed to a museum. This museum had artifacts from the king tombs and the lake we saw yesterday and from all over Gyeongju. The collection also included interesting paintings and sculptures from very long ago. Outside was a bell weighing 19 tons from 758 that is still rung. After that we headed to a Buddhist temple. As we entered the temple, if one got a small rock and placed it, they could make a wish. You have to stack the rocks on top of each other to make sure you don't destroy someone else's wish to make yours. After making our wishes we headed to Buson, the second largest city in South Korea. There we had a traditional Korean lunch and we got to try all sorts of new foods. There were things and I didn't know what they were but they were good. After that we visited a stormy beach in the rain and we went to an APEC meeting building which was very pretty. Then after we went to another museum that had the history of the South Korean people, we ate dinner. At the restaurant they had the dress and guitar from Sound of Music and an Oscar. Finally after the long day we headed to the new hotel and went to bed.
-Caleb


In front of the world's second largest bell.


We squatted on a wooden floor for this traditional Korean lunch.

Lunch consisted of complete veggies, which wasn't too enjoyable for a teenager from America. It was nice to enjoy the culture by sitting crossed feet with our shoes off. After trying most of the food that we didn't even know what it was, we enjoyed a dessert of tea that tasted like honey and sugar mixed with water, Concord grapes and a pastry. We got on the bus and headed to Busan and on the way I was delighted with food poisoning. The traffic made for a 3 hour drive to the beach where we saw humongous waves that crashed from about 8 feet. We walked around the APEC building and saw where international conventions were held. It was really cool to see America as part of Korea's history. Next was the National Museum. We saw history from ancient Confucianists and Buddhists.  Dinner consisted of the best meal we've had since we've been here- American cuisine. All the kids had about 9 pieces of pizza (considering the small portions we are given here), chicken wings, watermelon, spaghetti, ice cream and my personal favorite, the cream cheese. We got back on the bus and the kids have never smiled, been as loud and hyper as we have this entire trip. We had major sing-a-longs to Wicked and Frozen. After a quick drive to the hotel, we got our room keys and headed to the room. After settling in, we went back down to the lobby and listened to the singer from the Philippines. She sang Let It Go, Listen by BeyoncĂ© and other hits from America. At 10pm we went back to our room and went to sleep after a long day.

-Jessica

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bus Ride to Gyeongju



Today was one of the calm days, which was good because it gave us time to reflect on what we did yesterday at the DMZ. We started our day with a five hour bus ride, which only felt like two because we were having so much fun. I hope that I can speak for the whole group when I say that the bus ride really helped with us getting to know each other better and "bond". We took pictures with One Direction and we learned that the best way to sing songs from Frozen is out loud and together "but the most important thing is that we had fun." ~Isaac age 8. After we had fun on the bus we went to this really cool village and we got to do arts and crafts which were supposed to be done in Korean calligraphy but we kind of butchered it.  But we got laughs out of the villagers which is awesome. After that Sonja and I played this game where we had to get a rubber thing in an urn. Today was great!!

-Lexie



Today after visiting the village, we all headed back onto the bus, more importantly back into the air conditioning, for another hour long bus ride. This time we were headed for the ancient tombs. The tombs were the resting grounds of Korean royalty: kings, queens and families. As we first pulled up everyone looking out the windows was amazed by the size of the tombs. The ground rose into giant grass covered hills and there were dozens all around us. It was really amazing to see so many in one place. Some people at first thought they were just man made hills, as there is nothing on the outside but grass. We entered the tomb after our tour guide Christine had done some explaining. Inside the tomb were replicas of a king's resting place, as well as displays of artifacts and jewelry worn by royalty at the time. It was set up in the format of a museum, yet from the outside it looked like nothing but a massive hill which was really really cool. Korea is extremely rich in history, especially in contrast to the short history of the United States. As we continue through our trip and our many visits to palaces, museums, villages and more, it is becoming clear to all of us that the rich history of Korea is a vital part of its culture. Seeing the tombs today helped all of us to better understand the significance of Korean royalty in ancient times and how today their memorials are preserved. After we exited the tomb exhibit we continued walking. The tombs were everywhere, however only that one specific tomb had been fully excavated and opened to the public. The rest were left relatively untouched, in an attempt to preserve as much as possible. We finished walking through the area back to our bus, undoubtedly taking many pictures along the way. The pathway was surrounded by bamboo and beautiful trees which proved selfie- worthy. Overall the experience at the tomb was an amazing one, as we all got to experience the beauty of Korea while also learning about its history.

-Courtney



Today we were lucky enough to see the tombs of past Korean emperors and also the location of their old palace. We went on our tour bus to the tombs. I remember seeing huge bumps in the middle if the park. I was told that these unnatural hills were hollowed out and were used as tombs for the dead emperors of Korea. There were many of these hills that were covered with grass. However, only one tomb was open to the public. I remember that I saw a lot of the emperor's gold jewelry. This included earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. We were also lucky enough to see a replica of the real tomb that was used to house these Korean emperors. Soon after we visited the place in which they lived. On the down side, most of the buildings that were there were burned down. However, we looked at a 50 to 1 scale model of what the palace used to look like inside of one of the reconstructed buildings. There were three remodeled buildings that were put in to show what the original palace looked like. Because of this, most of the place was empty except that the foundations of the original building were marked and fenced in so no one could go inside. Each building was unique and looked out over a beautiful pond with many Koi fish inside. We all took many pictures of the pond and the buildings around it. I really wish we could have spent more time there. 

-Chas


Blog authors: Lexie, Chas & Courtney

DMZ Tour I


Commanding General on Handbell 101

Today was our DMZ performance for the soldiers at Camp Bonifas. We all left the hotel at 8:30 this morning for the DMZ where we went down into an infiltration tunnel dug by North Korea in an attempt to attack South Korea. It was 350 meters under ground and 256 meters out of the 1500 approximate meters total. We had to wear hard hats so we didn't have to test the hardness of our heads against the low ceiling. Afterthat we went to Korean barbecue with more pork as there is no beef. Then we headed off to the JSA ( joint security area ) for a tour of the area and we even crossed the border into North Korea *gasps*. After our tour we went back to Camp Bonifas for our concert and then to have dinner with the soldiers who were a wonderful audience. And so ends our day of fun.

-Akimoto

DMZ Tour II


What a day... I can't even put into words what happened today. To start things off we had very restricted attire to wear. Our tops had to  cover our shoulders and the skirt or pants had to go past our knees. This was because we were going to the joint security area and DMZ. Just hearing the word DMZ made everyone cringe.  We all were scared and afraid of what we were getting ourselves into. We left the hotel at 8:30 and drove one hour.  First we visited an area made for the separated families of South Korea.  There was a park and they celebrate with the families twice per year.  There also was an old train that was majorly damaged and everywhere we looked were bulletholes throughout it. Next stop we went to the tunnel. This is where the South Korean soldiers found the tunnel that the North Korean soldiers dug and were planning to attack... There are 4 tunnels that the South Korean soldiers have found and there are supposedly many more that are hidden. Before we entered the tunnel we had to wear yellow helmets in case of rocks falling on our heads and also because the ceiling was so low. We started walking downward.  It was an 11% incline. While walking down we thought it was so easy.. piece of cake. Then right when the ground became flat we came across a natural spring. We had the opportunity to drink the water. I washed my hands and the water was so refreshing and cold. Then we walked further into the cave.  It took about 10 minutes to get to the 3rd blockade and we were not allowed to go any further.  When we got to the end there was barbed wire in front of us and there was a small rectangular opening.. And through there you could see a water tank and another steel blockade... We couldn't grasp the fact that we were 100 meters from the border.  Then we made our way back to the steep incline.  Our jaws dropped when we saw the steep incline, but we all took our time making our way back up to ground level. We had to stop so the soldier could come on the bus and check to see how many people were on the bus. We were all so scared of the soldier because he looked so intimidating. We then made our way to the JSA visitor center.  There they held a film presentation that taught us about the history of the formation of the JSA and the incidents that happened there.  We then got onto the bus and took a tour of the DMZ.  While we were on the bus we stoped at what used to be called the Family Unification Center and now it's called the Freedom Center. We then had to form two lines and another rule was not to make hand gestures for example pointing waving chew gum take pictures laugh carry bags because if we did those things the North Korean soldiers would think they were being made fun of. Or if you brought a bag it would make them think you were hiding something in those bags like explosives. We then walked through the building and while we did I was sweating and in my mind freaking out, but I didn't show it.  We then walked through the glass doors and in front of us were map rooms and then the North Korean building. This sight was so surreal because we were standing 40 feet from North Korea and to top things off they let us walk into one of the light blue map buildings and inside were 4 tables with chairs and on the tables were 24 hour recorders and there were three soldiers standing guard.  Right when we walked into the map building we were on the South Korean side and then after we passed the middle of the room we entered Note orth Korea. I could not grasp the fact that I was in North Korea.. No one I will ever meet in my life can say that. And on top of that we got to take a picture with the soldiers. They looked like they were manikens. Thay were in a Tai Kwan Do stance with their hands in a fist and black sunglasses and helmets. But we we had to be a foot away from them. They had a straight face on them and did not flinch at all. We then had to leave the map building and stand in front of the Freedom Center. Our guide then told us we could take pictures of what was in front of us, which was the map buildings and the North Korean building. There were also many South Korean soldiers in different positions so that they would be able to tell if North Korea was up to something. While taking pictures Courtney said to me look up at the North Korea building. Do you see that soldier standing there?  And I looked and saw a North Korean soldier in front of the building. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. And then I noticed he had binoculars on. He was checking us and watching us to make sure we weren't doing anything unusual. I thought about it and I said to Courtney, "We are in South Korea at the DMZ standing in front of North Korea looking at a North Korean soldier. This is the coolest day of my life. But it wasn't even close to over. We then got back on the bus and saw the memorial thing. And then we saw the Bridge of No Return. This gave me the chills because Koreans had the opportunity to cross the bridge but they would never be able to return. That's like leaving New York and never being able to come back. We then went to lunch at a resturant and had pork which was very tender. We then went back to the JSA visitor center and began practicing. While we were practicing one of the soldiers that spoke English came to watch. He was very nice and he said he was from New York, specifically Brooklyn, and he was very happy to see other New Yorkers and people that spoke English. He was taking pictures of us and when he was leaving he gave us a thumbs up and then he walked over to Sydney and took off his hat and put it on her head. And they both smiled at each other. He then did it to Miyako. It was so cute to see the joy on their faces and I was very touched.

We went to get changed into our uniforms and then waited on line in the hallway to enter the room. We all were very nervous to perform in front of all the soldiers and then Eileen told us that their lives were really dull and they needed something  to cheer them up and they've been looking forward to hearing us play. This gave us the confidence and the drive to perform for them like no other concert. And with that we entered the room. I walked all the way to the end to my spot and then looked out. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. In front of me were South Korean soldiers. They all looked very kind and friendly but also very serious. When we performed our first piece, which was the Korean national anthe, all the soldiers stood up and took their hats off. They all stood up in unison. It was one of the most intimidating things I've ever seen in my life. They were all in their uniforms and they had their hats off and they were all staring at us. After a couple of pieces we played they clapped and then after the Visions of Peace they started cheering, which we were very happy to hear.  At our last piece they were cheering the loudest. I was lost for words and couldn't help but smile. After the concert was over the General said a few words that really touched us. He said that this could be the last music they ever hear. That's how serious their lives are and he told us it's an example of American peace and the relationship we have with them. After he spoke we told all the soldiers to come up to play the bells. We got to hand the bells out to  the soldiers and teach them how to play bells. They were very nice and kind and could speak English very well. They also asked for our Facebook's which was very interesting. I came to realize that they were just your average typical boys and they wanted to get to know us as people and asked us questions about the city. We then went to dinner. We had metal trays that we put our food on and this is what the soldiers would use. And they would eat the same food we ate. We were sitting next to a Korean soldier and we talked to him about his life and what he does and our lives as well. We then got a picture with him and he seemed very happy. We then headed back to the visitor center to pack our bells away and when I was carrying my chimes case one of the soldiers asked to carry it for me which was very nice. We then said thank you and then made our way back to the bus and the soldier from New York ran onto the bus and sais he had to see us before we left.  And we took a picture with him and he said that it was nice to see people that spoke English and he enjoyed seeing New York faces.  Overall I underestimated what I was going to do today. We were driving in the bus and way across the river we saw North Korea and were like that's so cool, North Korea is just over the river. Little did we know we were going to be standing in North Korea.  Also when the first soldier came on the bus he was so intimidating and we felt like it was going to be a stressful experience but when we preformed for them and talked to them afterwords they were the nicest people and we felt completely safe with them. I realized not to judge a person by their first impression but to give them a chance and get to know them.

This was the coolest day of my life and I don't think anything will ever come close to what we just did and it will always stay with me forever and I know that what we played for the soldiers made their day and they will never forget it and neither will I.

-Allison