Anne Decker’s Dream: Bringing Her Students Abroad

Anne Decker, U-32’s beloved orchestra teacher, has big plans for her future high school classes. “Something I’ve been thinking about for years,” Anne began to explain, “is traveling with the foreign language classes. They get to go to these other countries and study different cultures, and I just thought about how music is so well tied to that, so it would make a really good match.”
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In the past Decker has made an attempt in getting her class to go overseas, but it has never worked out before. “When I first came to U-32 I got really close, but I just wasn’t able to pull it off. There weren’t quite enough kids in the program, and it’s a lot of money.” But she hasn’t given up yet, and lucky for her, this year she found some resources that may potentially be of great help.

The dream came to life after communicating with Sarah Volinsky, one of the Spanish teachers. “I’ve been talking with Sarah a lot. She told me that she knew that one of the sophomores, Rena Schwartz, has a grandfather (Bernard Rubenstein) in Cuba who’s a professional conductor, and I know that Sarah is also interested in bringing her spanish class to Cuba.”

Rena Schwartz is a sophomore here at U-32, and she plays bass in Decker’s orchestra class. Having these close connections sets Decker up to take her next steps in making her dream a reality.

“I contacted the grandfather, and the initial contact with him was great. He was so enthusiastic and really seemed like he wanted to help us. I haven’t yet followed up with him, but the conversations are active, and once I can get in contact with him again, we can see where to go from there.”
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Junior Emma Curchin on the Spanish trip to Peru last year.

Anne is already thinking about what needs to be done after she contacts him again. “After I talk with the grandfather, my next step is bringing Sarah Volinski into it. She’s got a formula for making these kinds of trips happen. She knows how to plan for things like finding a travel agent, finding a place to stay, and making arrangements for the kids to meet with someone while they are down there.”

Her motivation in pursuing this trip comes from her passion of making music interesting for students. “I’m constantly trying to make the musical experience as diverse as possible because it makes it more real for the students. I mean, you can find string players in all kinds of music, hip hop, rock, classical, and so on. If my class could go to Cuba, there would be no better experience for making that musical diversity real for them.”
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Peru, 2015

Anne doesn’t just hope to expose her students to Cuba’s diverse culture; “the ultimate goal would be that the orchestra could bring music from Vermont to Cuba. And actually, the biggest dream would be to have Vermont music writers who would write music for our class to bring to Cuba. And then, after our class is done showing off our music to people in Cuba, then they could come back to Vermont and perform Cuban music that they learned while on the trip.”

Anne is hoping by next school year her dream will come true. “It would be great if, by next year, the music program could get enough students, and enough money to go to Cuba during the spring break of 2017,” Anne said. “if I could actually make this happen, I would have accomplished the ultimate teacher goal of making my classes exciting for students.”