Posted by Liz
BYU Hawaii is an amazing place. It is the smallest of the 3 BYU campuses, with less than 3,000 students enrolled each semester. I believe they have the most diverse student body of any university in America. Over 70 countries are represented, including all of the Pacific Island countries, most Asian countries, much of Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, and the Middle East. It is a unique experience to be on the BYU Hawaii campus and see students from all around the world interacting, studying, having fun, and helping each other.
Twice I have given a campus-wide devotional at BYU Hawaii. Both times, after I finished speaking, a long line of students formed to talk to me. Both times, most of the students asked if I could bring the SMF program to their country, where it was desperately needed.
I have to
admit that after 12 years of doing this, I thought SMF would be in more countries than 3. But we have been having a really rough time of fund raising for the last few years. Our donations are down so much that we’ve had to scale back what we can do, and we even had to put our N Ireland program on hiatus until this year.
BYU Hawaii has a peace-building certificate that you can earn in addition to your major. It is run by Chad Ford, who gets the students to reach out to needy communities of Hawaii with service, and prepares them to return home to their countries after graduation as peace-builders.
So after the last time I spoke, Chad asked if I would be willing to return to BYU Hawaii to teach his students how to teach my program. I kept thinking about this and realized this was an amazing opportunity to offer SMF training to the BYU Hawaii students, especially those from countries who had experienced war or extreme violence.
I emailed the students from Congo, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Iran, Philippines, Uganda and all the countries I identified as places that need our program. I told these students that I was going to offer a week of free training and
that if they stayed with the program and continued to do training with me when I returned every 6 months, when they graduated I would give them instruments and music to take home so they could start a SMF program in their home country.
I had 55 students sign up, from many countries and all continents. It was a rough schedule and required a lot of time in one week. By the end of the week, 38 students remained. They were AMAZING. They learned to read music, write music, play the pennywhistle, conduct music, and started learning how to teach music. They practiced and worked really hard. Now they are continuing to meet once per week to practice playing and teaching together.
This group will continue to work together until they graduate from BYU Hawaii. At that time, those students from war-affected countries will return home and set up SMF programs, accompanied by students who are not from war-affected countries. One of our group is from Congo so we’ve selected his home country as our first goal for this group. In addition, we are planning to go to Zimbabwe, the Philippines, and many more countries that need SMF.
And next summer, 10 of these students will come to Kosovo for 6 weeks as Student Interns through BYU Hawaii. This will prepare them for running programs in their countries in ways that I can’t do in a US setting. And it will be so fun for our Kosovo children and Youth Volunteers to work with these students.
Every week I get reports from the group on how they are doing, and it sounds like it’s going really well. I can’t wait to return in January to give them the second part of the training and to start another group of new students!