From a hellish hostel in Liverpool:

Imagine this: it’s 3:30am on a Monday morning. You’ve been lying in bed for five hours, but still haven’t managed to fall asleep. Why, you ask? Because your fifth-floor hostel room’s thermostat reads “30 C”, and the pub directly below your window has been blaring music since the late afternoon. Ever heard the dance remix of John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads”? I hadn’t either until that morning.

After lying in a pool of literal sweat and tears that night, I caved and rented a hotel room for my remaining two days in Liverpool. While my budget hotel had some life changing air-conditioning, it didn’t have many other perks. So, like any college student on a budget, I’ve been returning to the Hellish Hostel each morning for free breakfast, lots of coffee, and speedy Wi-Fi.

 

A pretty street in downtown Liverpool, taken outside the not-so-hellish hotel

Here in Liverpool, I’ve been working with an organization called In Harmony. With four different sites across England, In Harmony strives to provide accessible music education to students in underprivileged areas. In Harmony Liverpool, in conjunction with the Liverpool Philharmonic, works in three different schools in a neighborhood called Everton. Over the last three days, I’ve had the opportunity to visit In Harmony Liverpool’s sites scattered throughout the neighborhood, chat with teachers and staff, observe lessons and rehearsals, and even do some teaching.

Many of the children involved with In Harmony Liverpool are preparing for their final orchestra concert this coming Sunday at Philharmonic Hall. Titled “Stars and Stripes” the concert features all American-inspired music in celebration of America’s birthday. While observing a rehearsal yesterday evening, I (introduced as a real-life American) was asked to discuss what the 4th of July is and why we celebrate it.

A bulletin board put up by teachers at a nursery that In Harmony-Liverpool serves

Tonight, I take the train for a four-hour ride back to London. Tomorrow, I fly to Greece. These last ten days have been a whirlwind of fun and excitement, sweat and exhaustion, and lots and lots of learning. I look forward, though, to the remaining seventy. Farewell, England!

My stay in England has left me feeling thankful for lots of things. Here are twice more than my usual three:

  • 1. Friends that fly to London to watch three musicals with you in one weekend—shout out to Tynan (who probably hasn’t read any of these blog posts).
  • 2. Organizations that have welcomed me with open arms—In Harmony has been filled with some of the nicest, most inspiring people I’ve met in a while. I’m filled with gratitude for such great hospitality that has been shown to me over the last few days, in addition to the whole Sistema community in England.
  • 3. Liverpool One Church—after spontaneously walking in for a Sunday nice service (at which I planned to sit in the back, talk to no one, and leave promptly after worship was over) I was greeted by some lovely gals who introduced me to numerous young adults and invited me out for pizza after the service!
  • 4. Air-conditioning—no explanation needed.
  • 5. The World Ensemble for reaching out to learn more about my summer adventures and publicize some of my writing in their biweekly newsletter. You can learn more about it here.
  • 6. The U.S. of A.—while I know it seems as though I leave the country every chance I get, I’ve got a big, big heart for the USA. I don’t get homesick often, but it’s hard not to feel a little lonely when I’m out of the country for the 4th.