Submitted photo/Abby Schuur, left, who will begin her senior year at Dowagiac Union High School in the fall, traveled throughout Europe recently with 51 other Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp students as part of the International Choir.

Archived Story

Local choir student returns from Europe

Published 5:21pm Monday, July 30, 2012

Abby Schuur experienced quite the culture shock this summer when she traveled to Europe with the International Choir of Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, singing with 51 other students.

The incoming senior at Dowagiac Union High School got acquainted with the camp in eighth grade after her choir director, Jeff Robinson, introduced a representative to students. Now, in her fourth year with the camp, Schuur was offered the chance to travel to Germany, France and Belgium, singing songs in Italian, French, German and English.

“This was my first time out of the States,” Schuur said. “It was a lot of culture shock, but I think I was so lucky to go during high school while I’m young.”

Schuur, who served as an intern counselor for the trip, visited six destinations, including Münster, Lübeck and Alzey, Germany; Aix-en-Provence and Foix, France; and Erps-Kwerps, Belgium. During the trip, Schuur stayed with a host family in Foix.

“The language barrier was hard to overcome,” Schuur said. “It was a lot of charades.”

Schuur and the choir were challenged musically, too.

“We had to sing a huge piece that was 200 pages long,” Schuur said. “We would stand for the concert for an hour and a half.”

The rewards included interaction with locals, learning from them and also teaching them about Dowagiac.

“The best thing was being in contact with people,” Schuur said. “It gave us the chance to show the U.S. and Dowagiac in a good light. You wouldn’t believe how excited they are to host.”

Schuur said she plans to graduate after her senior year and attend college in Illinois for music education. During the summers between semesters, she said she hopes to return to Blue Lake as a counselor. After her first international trip and experience as an intern counselor, Schuur thanked those who helped make her trip a reality.

“I want to thank the Fine Arts Booster Club, my drama director, Meredith Marrs, my choir director, Jeff Robinson, and those in the community who helped make it possible for me to go,” Schuur said.

She also had advice for younger choir students who may be interested in the camp or a trip to Europe.

“Don’t worry about the cost. People are so willing to help you out, so don’t turn it down,” Schuur said. “Just go.”

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