Her homework

Part 1

If there is something she is nostalgic about it is their youth chamber orchestra at the Music College in the 90s. In the beginning they were 7 and their conductor used to come 2-3 hours too late to the lesson. There were already problems with the public transport and teachers didn’t receive their salary, so he was not very enthusiastic at the beginning. But seeing the students waiting for him, while they were having fun, he was wondering, ‘Why are you still here and didn’t go home?’ Finally, he took the students seriously and they grew as a group together through music. He was an amazing teacher to back then. The country was divided in three wars, corruption, and criminality. Their orchestra was for them the only place of love and inspiration. Music meant something that united them, gave them the love and security they needed so much, as teenagers. They were living in another world. Soon they created an open call and gathered young musicians from other music schools to join their orchestra. They had to play on audition, like all professional musicians and all of them, the founding members were part of the jury. She remembers when they discussed the players they were also discussing their personalities if they would fit in their collective. In that sense some not so talented students, but friendly personalities, got a chance to be part of the group and develop better their playing skills. They were rehearsing without heating, sometimes in warm jackets, playing with frozen fingers. They were making jokes that they don’t take off their hats, because they didn’t wash their hair. Hot water, gas, and electricity were already a rare thing. Soon they had a nice program and were traveling with it across Georgia. One of their founding member’s fathers was teaching at the Waldorf School in Georgia (some call it Steiner school or anthroposophical school).  They had some contacts with the Steiner school in Germany and very soon they were hosting a youth symphony orchestra from a Steiner school of Saarbrücken.

Part 2

They started to rehearse together with the youth orchestra from Germany and had a concert tour in Georgia. These teenagers were from a different planet at the beginning. They smelled differently, she remembers the smell of the shampoo and of the clothes they were wearing. She doesn't remember how much time they spent together, but after a while, like all teenagers they became one body. Even without proper language skills they had one common language - music. When time came to say goodbye, they were all crying, hugging each other at the airport.  After that they were writing letters to each other, some of them in German, some in English. The German kids sent them parcels with the Red Cross. She got 2 or 3 parcels from three friends: Gabi, Corina, and Esther. They wrote they bought things from their pocket money. These parcels made them so happy, they contained white chocolate (which she’d never seen before), cheese, pudding, Nivea creme, Noodles, tampons, shampoos, body lotion, etc. It was an amazing treasure for them.

One year later they were invited to Germany, and the parents of these teenagers paid for their travel. They rented the bus and it was their first amazing trip to Europe. They passed through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, and finally arrived in Saarbrücken. It was the year 1995. Though they passed many borders she remembers she didn’t have a clear sense of THE BORDER between West and East. It was relative, every country they were passing was more and more Western in her view. Years later when she visited Berlin and saw the rest of the Wall, she experienced it as a mental marker that was giving a name, an image to her travel, to her first experience of crossing THE BORDER. In her experience, the Border was a process, it was something that was alive, something that was changing gradually. When they arrived in Germany they had their first disappointment. They all were expecting hugs and tears, which they remembered from their last scene at the airport. Instead, there was a kind of cold, but polite welcoming. She remembers how shocked they were about it and didn’t understand what was going on. Nevertheless, when the rehearsals started and they had their first concerts, the atmosphere of something unordinary, the love, and warmth came back. They were again one whole body that had fun together. And again they had tears and hugs when saying goodbye to each other.