BYU Hawaii Intern Natalia–Ist Week In Kosovo!

August 25, 2012 | By wickley wickley

Aloha Hawaii, Tungjatjeta Kosovo!

After much preparation and anticipation, 8 if us from Brigham Young University Hawaii finally made our way more than halfway around the world to the beautiful country of Kosovo, tucked away in Eastern Europe.  Now, how did we become so lucky you might ask?… Let me start back in September 2011, when Liz Shropshire visited the BYUH campus and began teaching a weeklong pennywhistle course.  Seeing posters and flyers around campus a few weeks prior to Liz’s arrival; advertising this “Shropshire Music Foundation: teaching children peace through music”, I and many others were immediately interested.  Music has always been a major part of my life, and I wanted to learn how I could help others (especially children) use music as a source of peace; as I had felt in my own life the power of music.

The second I met Liz that first training, I knew I was in the right place, and wanted to become involved in every way possible with her incredible foundation.  She spoke about the different programs in Northern Ireland, Uganda, and Kosovo…and I was so intrigued by the new information about each site.  My eyes were opened to the affects of war (Kosovo in particular), in a country I didn’t even know existed!  I saw just a glimpse of what the Shropshire Music Foundation had done to help already, and I was excited to continue on this new journey.

We were able to learn the basics of music, teaching notes and rests, conducting, and playing the pennywhistle!…it was honestly one of my favorite Weeks during my time at the university.

Liz returned to Hawaii in January 2012, teaching us advanced training and adding a new beginners group…and she told us there was a possibility of applying for a summer internship with

the foundation in Kosovo! Liz asked me to direct the trainings, or practices, for the remainder of the semester and by the end, she had chosen the handful of students who would be assisting her that summer….well…that brings us to now! :)

Amber, Emika, Amanda, Diana, Bobby, Daniel, Aaron and myself (Natalia) excitedly arrived in Kosovo on July 19th, 2012 to begin or unforgettable experience with Liz and the Shropshire Music Foundation!

Having heard so much from Liz about the incredible local volunteers that run the program, it was so neat to finally meet them and hear their stories.  Each one of them has a different history, and recollection of the war…but all share the same love and dedication for what this foundation does….help children affected by the past in any way gain confidence in themselves and others…so they are able to share that confidence and peace through music.

Getting to know the volunteers, the program, and the culture that first week was something I (nor any of the others) will never forget.  The volunteers working so well with the kids and the bond they share with each other, the warmth and welcoming of them and all those we come in contact with, and the hard work and dedication involved in running the organization.  It was amazing to find out that even when Liz is not around (when she’s in the other countries), the program remains organized and successful–because of the volunteers. Who are all truly special and incredible people.  At such a young age, and having been through so much, they are able to grow continually and help all those around them.

From what I’ve witnessed in my short time here already, the Shropshire Music Foundation is changing the lives of children in Kosovo (and i’m sure everywhere else) who, before, had very little, if not nothing, to look forward to.  The Shropshire Music Foundation gives others a reason to learn and grow, smile, care for others, work hard, practice, heal, and love music.

I hope the support network of the foundation continues to grow, so it is able to reach more children in dire need of a source of peace in their lives…

-Natalia Alston, Utah, USA