Story of Paula

Paula Yust, ICC/IYC Alumna, 2002-2005

This didn’t seem all that incredible to me when I was a middle school student: voluntarily establishing a time in one’s week for a group of diverse people to come together to do something that they all loved.

However, it became a lasting routine for me through high school, college, and now graduate school. No matter how crazy the week is, I take a break on Wednesday evening and sing with my choir family (I now sing with the Duke Chapel Choir).

My love for ICC stayed with me outside of rehearsal rooms. When I was in 8th grade, I had to write a research paper, and I decided to write about the history of children’s choirs. Mr. Leck was kind enough to let me interview him, and I also spent many hours in the library researching. Today, more than a decade later, I am a developmental psychology researcher and write quite a few research papers. I can gladly credit ICC for helping me find my interest in research.

One other memory that remained with me is the 2005 tour to China when we were in a garden and happened upon a community singing group. They didn’t know much English and we didn’t know any Chinese, but we spontaneously started singing for each other. That moment of finding connection across languages and across continents has stuck with me for many years.

Whenever I babysit, I sing some of the ICC songs to the children as I rock them to sleep. There is just something about the message of the song that I want to share with these young children.

The impact of the ICC on me has given me hope that despite the deep divisions in society, we can and must find common ground to listen to each other. I’ve learned how music helps people make sense of emotions and events, and that is one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

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