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The Olivet College Marching Comets recently returned from a trip to Italy – complete with a performance in the Rome New Year’s Day Parade. Students not only achieved performing on a new level, but they also experienced local culture, cuisine, art, history and much more. The opportunity came through Youth Music of the World, an organization that focuses on performance travel programs.

“We had an amazing trip to Rome, Italy, where we were invited to perform in the New Year’s Day Parade,” said Director of Bands Jeremy Duby. “We also performed in Frascati, and the Wind Ensemble performed a concert in the beautiful Santa Maria Dei Miracoli. We marched in front of 540,000 people, all of whom were smiling, cheering and dancing as we performed. Our group was the most photographed and videoed group of the event, and were featured coverage on two major Roman news outlets!

“Music is powerful and speaks to everyone. These young ambassadors touched souls, absorbed a new culture, and added a highly infectious positive vibe in the world when it was most needed. They created lifelong international relationships and bonds and served many individuals with their performances. I am humbled to be their director, proud to be a member and excited for what lies ahead!”

A few students who attended the trip shared their experiences:

Favorite Memories

“My favorite part of the trip was being able to march through the streets of Rome while 540,000 people cheered and danced while we played. It’s a moment that I will never forget.” — First-year student Katelynn DeHaan

“My favorite part of the trip was the day we were in Frascati. The village itself was a wonderful place to explore and the market added to the experience. Our performance was the highlight of that day. We went to three different locations in the village to perform for the public. At our first location, there was a boy who was taking photos of our band, and I got a small group of us to pose for him before our performance. We hadn’t played a single note and already we were affecting people in a positive manner. By the end of our third performance, I felt a connection with the people of Frascati even though I wasn’t able to talk to most of them. It’s what music is known for — connecting people together without saying a single word.” — Senior Hannah Haugsby

Expanded Worldviews

“The experience broadened my cultural knowledge as a person. As a musician, I had a few mistakes in our Wind Ensemble performance and was frustrated, but after the performance, we had a long standing ovation from people who were in tears over our music. They loved every part and didn’t dwell on a missed note here or there. We spoke to them without even knowing their language.” — First-year student Graci Dack

“This trip impacted me as both a musician and a student. It has inspired me to find performing opportunities in other places in the world. It also strengthened my core beliefs when it comes to music; it’s one of the most important aspects of our lives regardless if we are a musician or not. The most important thing is that this trip reminded me why I am a musician: to inspire others to be as great as they are and to contribute to a world where everyone can be inspired and accepted.” — Senior Hannah Haugsby

“I had never dreamed I would be able to take part in something as amazing as this experience was. The trip changed my outlook on life because I was able to encounter a whole new culture while I was there. I learned so many new things and it made me change my outlook on life.” — First-year student Katelynn DeHaan

Biggest Takeaways

“I may have had a big trip to see gorgeous and huge buildings and architecture, but my overall takeaway would be to enjoy the little things and every last minute.

“I would like to thank everyone who supported us and our trip. Family, friends and coworkers, through thoughts and donations, helped to make it a wonderful trip. And yes, the gelato was amazing!” — First-year student Graci Dack

 “I am proud to be an Olivet College Marching Comet. This program, my family, has made big impacts on communities on campus, outside of Olivet and now outside of the country. I’ve formed bonds with people I couldn’t form with anyone else. I have connections that will stay strong even after I graduate. It makes my heart swell knowing the hard work we put into each of our performances. We grow stronger with each day and we will continue to show people why it is important to have music in our lives.” — Senior Hannah Haugsby

Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

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