January Alumni Spotlight

I often find myself thinking of IMS whenever school gets tough. I can't express how much those two weeks of connection have changed my life: the way I think, the way I act, the way I view the world.  It's created a unique sense of discipline that has become one of the core areas of how I live my life. I've been able to find a deeper meaning behind my music and with my interactions with other people as well.  It's created a new way of living for me!

I am currently volunteering at a nonprofit organization called Jill's House (http://jillshouse.org). It's presently the largest overnight stay facility in the nation for children with disabilities. I am currently also attempting to make opportunities to play cello for the children as well while I care for them...because I know for a fact that a lot of them absolutely love music! 

At IMS, I learned to better express myself through my playing, thus leading to a mature mentality that I believe to be unattainable anywhere but in music.  With that mentality, I've continued to play in the AYP level of AYPO (we're playing Symphonic Dances from the West Side Story :D!!!), lead as principal cellist in my school orchestra, and serve as co-principal cellist at Senior Regionals Orchestra - moving on to VA All-States now!

The world vision of IMS has touched my life and many others and will certainly touch the lives of many many others in the future to come.   -- update from Eugene Choo (cellist, 2016 IMS Alumnus from Virginia)

December Blog post

As most of us we count down to the holiday season in joyful anticipation, it is also heart-wrenching time to acknowledge the ongoing suffering in other parts of the world...particularly in Aleppo right now. “War does not determine who is right, only who is left," brilliantly said by philosopher Bertrand Russell, revealing the truth: we are “left”.  Recent world events have been disturbing and challenging our humanity. The plight of the refugees - innocent people whose lives are overturned by horrific events - their stories and pictures make our hearts bleed and we wonder how we can help.

To put things into a contemporary framework, the recently released HBO series Westworld uses an inspiring opening quote, "Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world. The disarray. I choose to see the beauty.”  As true and simple as this notion is, we can choose to mourn, to blame the governments, and to be frustrated that we are not the decisions makers who can stop what is happening.  On the other hand, we can choose to acknowledge that when we complain about the issues in our daily lives, somewhere in the world there is a person who is simply asking for is his/her basic needs to be met and to be safe. 

We are "left" indeed, but what we are left with is compassion and the ability to help.  Some of us feel helpless because we are so removed from the situation, but there are things we can do.  We can donate to agencies that can provide immediate assistance on the ground.  We can urge our representatives to assist refugees.  Perhaps we think also ponder what we can do as educators and as musicians:  Music can be a great comfort and a cathartic act of self-expression.  It can be a reminder of better times and memories, a safe and constructive activity for children, or a safe "space" as we often refer to these days.  The education of refugee children is severed as their lives are disrupted by violence; they are uprooted from their homes and all sense of normalcy evaporates...including going to school, which so many of us take for granted here. -- authored by IMS intern Charlotte Chan.