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Breaking the language barrier: Orchestral training for El Salvador

Posted: Feb 06, 2013

2013 02-06 El Salvador

Dr. Jacklin, who teaches percussion at ONU, trains young men from the National Youth Orchestra in El Salvador

Guests of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, Department of Music faculty Dr. Matt Jacklin and Dr. Gerald Anderson recently travelled to Central America to teach music as well as perform. 

The national youth orchestra, consisting of youth ages 12 to 22 years, was their focus. The orchestra program is taken very seriously by officials in both Central America and South America. While there is one university in the capital, there is no music program. The orchestra provides an opportunity for students who want develop their talent and skills.

Leaders of the orchestra have arranged for several international guests to teach these youth, inspiring and motivating them in a very positive way. Many of the kids are very ambitious.

"I was really flattered and honored to do it, and to do God’s work," Dr. Jacklin said. “It was amazing.”

This opportunity for Dr. Jacklin and Dr. Anderson came, in part, as the result of a relationship Dr. Jacklin had formed while working on his doctorate. He received his DMA from the University of Illinois, where he became friends with Dr. James Price from El Salvador. Dr. Price now has a high government position in El Salvador, and he invited Dr. Jacklin and Dr. Anderson to travel there as guest instructors.

"Olivet deserves a lot of credit of this program, too," Dr. Jacklin said. In support of the trip, Olivet provided the plane tickets and helped with the traveling arrangements.

Dr. Jacklin felt that the most difficult part of the trip was the cultural differences. They had to go through a translator. But this experience solidified the idea that music can break through any language barrier.

"I had the opportunity to be a counselor to these kids," Dr. Jacklin said.

Although they were in a secular environment, both men remembered that this is still God's work. Dr. Jacklin stressed that searching for God's work is important.

"At Olivet we want to do that. When you get beyond this campus, what can you do to make a difference and shine a light? You can be instrumental to God's will," Jacklin said.

Intramural sports in which Olivet students can participate, ranging from basketball and soccer to euchre and dodgeball