Posted by: dougadair | March 26, 2010

“Somos melhores por causa disto” or “We are all better because of this”

The WIU Wind Ensemble’s Trip to Brazil was indeed the “trip of a lifetime”, not only for the WIU students, faculty, alums and family members who participated but also for the people in Brazil who were touched by the Wind Ensemble’s inspiring music and their kindness, graciousness and professionalism.

As a 1976 graduate of WIU’s College of Fine Arts and Communication who lives in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, I, along with my wife Nisi Rodrigues who is Brazilian, were delighted to help plan the trip in conjunction with Mike Fansler and Conor O’Sullivan of Tatur Turismo and to assist Mike and Conor in hosting the Wind Ensemble during their time in Brazil. All of us here in Brazil were deeply impressed with both the caliber of musicianship and the caliber of people from WIU who participated in the trip.

Some of my company’s work in Brazil is related to “sustainable tourism” development which is based on the notion that everyone and everything should benefit from tourism and negative impacts should be eliminated.  All too often, discussions and actions related to “sustainable tourism” development focus largely on environmental preservation and pay little attention to the importance of high quality cultural exchanges.

For me, the Wind Ensemble’s visit to Brazil demonstrated that any discussions or actions related to “sustainable tourism” development should always take into account the significance of interactions and exchanges between visitors and local citizens. On this count, the Wind Ensemble’s visit to Brazil was “off the charts”. It didn’t matter that the musicians from WIU and their local counterparts (as well as most of the audience members) couldn’t speak the same language because they “played” in the universal language of music. And, WOW!, from the get-go, it was obvious the Wind Ensemble “came to play” in Brazil. And play they did—almost to the point of exhaustion at times. It was amazing to see how energized they all became when they started playing and local musicians and audiences began responding to their music.

Congratulations to everyone associated with the WIU Wind Ensemble’s 2010 Trip to Brazil. You are all terrific Ambassadors and you have done much to strengthen relations between the US and Brazil and to put “WIU” in the hearts and minds of many people in Brazil. I especially want to thank Mike Fansler, Abby Rhodes, Conor O’Sullivan, Gina Carmo, my wife Nilsi Rodrigues, and all of the WIU faculty members and alums who participated for their efforts to make the trip successful. I also want to thank Dean Paul Kreider and the administration of WIU for their support of the trip during challenging times for WIU.

On a sad note, as many of you know, my Mother, Evelyn Adair, passed away in Morton, Illinois, on Thursday, March 18. I had to leave the group quite suddenly in Rio de Janeiro to return to the US for her funeral. We learned three weeks ago that my Mother was terminally ill with leukemia but we didn’t expect her to pass so quickly. At one point, I had considered returning to the US prior to the Wind Ensemble’s arrival in Brazil. However, my Mother who, along with my Father who died in 1998, was a proud WIU parent and she deeply appreciated all the opportunities that WIU has created for me and continues to create. Having been a WIU parent who worried about her sons (my brother Jim also graduated from WIU in 1979), she was concerned about the safety and well being of the WIU students participating in the trip and wanted to make sure that I was in Brazil to help alleviate the worries of other WIU parents. Her wish was that I stay in Brazil and make sure the WIU Wind Ensemble’s trip was a success.

As many of the trip participants have already written in this blog, the trip was a life changing experience for everyone from WIU as well as for everyone here in Brazil who came in contact with the Wind Ensemble. As they say in Portuguese, “Somos melhores por causa disto” or “We are all better because of this”.

In my heart, I feel that my Mother’s wish was granted and I find great comfort in this. She lived her entire life this way, always being concerned about the welfare of others. Though I and all of my family and the members of her community and church will miss her dearly, we know “we are all better because of her”.

Again, thanks to everyone including my Mother who helped make the WIU Wind Ensemble Trip to Brazil an experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.

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