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Tearing Down Barriers with Love

Jonathan RaebeICC/IYC Alumnus, 1991-2001

Brazil Tour Story

When I was on tour with Indianapolis Youth Choral in Brazil, my roommate and I stayed with a host mom. We didn’t speak Portuguese and she didn’t speak English. It took us a while to communicate, but the language barrier was no obstacle for her to show kindness to us. She was so kind to prepare a feast for us for breakfast every morning, all ready in time for us to eat before we left for the day!

She didn’t make a lot of money but she was willing to share everything she had with us. One day, we came back home and found out that she had gone out and bought a humidifier because one of us was coughing at night, and she was worried about us. Her generosity and love were incredible.

Empathy in Afghanistan

When we sang songs from different places and in different languages, I would try to understand the meaning behind the music — why it was written and the emotions behind the words and chords. Many years later, I took this with me into life while dealing with the challenges I faced.

One of these was while I was deployed in Afghanistan as an infantry officer. I talked with a man in the middle of his village. He explained to me that he had 19 children and grandchildren that he was trying to provide for. He explained how the Taliban paid him to put bombs in the road to hurt us and other governmental factions. He told me where he was placing these bombs and what to look for because he appreciated my ability to empathize with his situation. I was able to send this information to my command and we were able to safely travel an area known for being hostile. This is one example of how the empathy I learned in ICC has significantly benefited my life and the lives of others.

Looking back at my time there and the experiences I had with the ICC,  I have been taught me how important it is to always be helpful and kind to people, no matter what language you speak or where you are from. I learned that you can always communicate and show appreciation to those around you.

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