This afternoon the wind ensemble traveled to Uto, Kumamoto. This city was founded in 1958 and has a population of about 38,000. Upon arrival in Uto, we split into four smaller groups, each anticipating different destinations for the day's activities. The first group visited with the mayor of Uto and the governor of Kumamoto. The second group went to a performance put on by the Kakujo Middle School.The second group participated in planned activities at the Uto Elementary School. Last, but not least, the group I was fortunate enough to be a part of had an assembly to attend at the Uto Higashi Elementary.
Higashi Elementary school houses 291 students grades 1-6. These students welcomed us with the waving of their homemade American flags. The assembly began with an introduction from each of the Wartburg students. Next, the Wartburg senior clarinet quartet (Erika Verberg, Brittany Manning, Chelsea Hill, Stephanie Reinert) performed three selections. The students all watched carefully with big smiles on their faces. On the stage, behind the clarinetists, there were two flags: the flag of the United States of America and the flag of Japan. The purpose of the event was to promote good relationships between countries of different cultures and the power of music as an international language. Therefore, the students of Higashi Elementary presented us with their music next. The students sang their school song and another well-known Japanese song. All of the Wartburg students were impressed with the quality of music that the students presented. The final portion of the program was a gift presentation. Several students of the Higashi Elementary school made each Wartburg student a newspaper helmet. This was a tradition of Children's day, which was celebrated on May 5th. The helmets wished upon us good health, and strength. We wore them very proud. After the conclusion of the assembly, the Wartburg students were bombarded by the Higashi students for pictures. We enjoyed taking photos with them and talking with them. They were incredibly excited about us being at their school, which gave us such a welcoming and heartwarming experience.