Around the world in 7 months
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Jordan Leverette just recently got back from a 7 month trip to two foreign countries and is a student at the The Young American College of Performing Arts.
She was part of two different groups that went to Japan for three months and then Europe for four months to help spread music awareness at schools and other youth facilities. I got a chance to speak with her about what she experienced while she was over there.
OLGUIN: Today I am with Jordi Leverette and she is part of the Young American College of Performing Arts. Hello Jordi
JORDAN LEVERETTE: Sup
OLGUIN: Recently you took a trip to Japan and as well Europe, can you tell me a little about the trip?
LEVERETTE: Yeah I spent seven months out of America and I traveled with the group called The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts.
OLGUIN: Also known as the YA’s?
LEVERETTE: The Y-A’s. We call ourselves the Y-A’s.
OLGUIN: Of course, of course.
LEVERETTE: And I was with a group of about 35.
OLGUIN: And you went to Japan first right?
OLGUIN: So tell me a little about Japan and the culture difference as well as the trip.
LEVERETTE: As far as the culture they are the most kind people, the most giving, and our society can learn so much from Japan. Because, they are willing to bring strangers into their home and treat them like family. I had this one mother, she was my mom that just passed away, I was sick when I stayed at her house, I just got random food poisoning. She I guess was going through chemotherapy, she didn’t have any hair on her head, she wore wigs, and two months later she was just bedridden. But the time that I was there and I was sick, she just cooked me food like five times that day, gave me ice cream, rubbed my hair when I was feeling sick, and just gave me a bed to sleep in even though she had two daughters of her own.
OLGUIN: You did a lot of music outreach with the schools and kids in Japan, could you tell me a little bit about that?
LEVERETTE: Yeah so we go into the school and we are there for three days in this city, town, or wherever we are at. And we teach the students a performance and on the third day we do our dress rehearsal and then we have our show.
OLGUIN: And what was one of the shows that stood out to you in Japan?
LEVERETTE: We had this over 18 international one, so they brought anyone they could find that was not from Japan and it’s just a bunch of over 18. It’s just like watching all these strange people from different cultures and different backgrounds come together in one room and dance their asses off was amazing.
OLGUIN: Did you participate in it?
LEVERETTE: I sure did.
OLGUIN: Were you intimidated?
LEVERETTE: Not particularly, I was a teacher. I mean not that I am an incredible dancer. I’m more of a singer, but I’m not embarrassed to put my leg into my face.
OLGUIN: You mentioned about the homestays earlier and saying how you would change every three days. What was it like going from family to family?
LEVERETTE: Sometimes it was difficult, because I adored the family I didn’t want to leave. Other times I wanted to get the heck out. But for the mostly I didn’t have any terrible or life threatening experiences at my home stays. They were always kind and generous. Sometimes I was just not being well mannered and didn’t want to wake up at 4am to take a bus. But everything was lovely about homestays. You don’t really get to soak up the culture or the essence of the people when you are staying at a hotel. You leave you a little bit of your heart in every home.
OLGUIN: You were in Japan for three months right?
OLGUIN: How was it when you first came back from Japan?
LEVERETTE: Oh, well that had the worse jetlag. Coming from Japan to America was like thee worst. Then it’s just like culture shock. I was used to being the only black girl in a 10 mile radius. And the food, you eat so healthy there I lost like 20 pounds when I was in Japan. I didn’t even noticed, it just fell off of me. I was also dancing everyday, so that was easy.
OLGUIN: And then coming back to America and their fast food…
LEVERETTE: Yeah so the first thing I had when I came off the plane was Taco Bell. I had a crunch wrap supreme.
OLGUIN: Was it as good as you thought it would be?
LEVERETTE: No it wasn’t. It tasted like grease.
OLGUIN: Alright then when you came back from Japan you were here for a week and when people here that they think, oh you got to spend time with your family, but that obviously wasn’t the case. How was it?
LEVERETTE: No, I got to spend two hours with my family, because I had rehearsal from early in the morning to late at night preparing for my next tour in Europe.
OLGUIN: This was with the other group or with the same group?
LEVERETTE: No different group. Once I came back from Japan, we parted our ways, then moved on and then jumped into rehearsal the next day. I got off the plane slept in my bed for one night and then left to corona.
OLGUIN: Then after that week you ended up going to Europe and how was that different from when you first went to Japan?
LEVERETTE: When you get off the plane and you are in Europe, it’s like a whole bunch of people around you are not wearing deodorant. I’m pretty sure I tasted BO
OLGUIN: It was that bad?
LEVERETTE: Yes it was that bad. I looked at my friend, she’s from Germany her name’s Leah. But in Germany you taste the BO when you first get off of the plane, so I asked Leah “What is this flavor, what is this smell?” And she said, “Welcome to Europe, this is your first time huh?” Later I learned that their deodorants are not particularly as strong as ours are. And then we got straight on the plane onto our tour bus and packed it up and rode off. Then I saw the most beautiful I have ever seen. Miles and miles of land, just the greatest grass and grape seed oil fields.
OLGUIN: Besides the scenery and the BO, what was the culture like in general?
LEVERETTE: Oh they are harsh people, but lovely and honest and genuine. You know in America we have these facades that we put up. Outside the house you look perfect and you keep the perfect family and your mother is the perfect housewife. But in Germany they’ll just air out their dirty laundry like they don’t care. I don’t know if you have heard the saying that Germans always sound mad when they are talking, “ich liebe dich”. That means I love you! That sounds so mean and anger filled, but they are so compassionate and loving and truthful and they will be more honest with you than sometimes your parents will.
OLGUIN: One of the performances that stood out to you was Estonia with the kids in poverty in that area. How was that like?
LEVERETTE: Well first off it was really difficult coming into the town. You know nobody really had cars, not much electricity. The school that we went to had bars on basically all the windows. Even our tour bus was broken into in Estonia. Everybody lost everything. I lost my Ipad, people lost sentimental pictures, journals,ipods, laptops, phones.
OLGUIN: Was that before or after?
LEVERETTE: That was before.
OLGUIN: So how were you guys able to keep going on even though that had happened to you guys?
LEVERETTE: Well we were there for a greater cause. The opportunity to change and influence someone’s life was far greater than what we lost. So right after we left that beautiful town in Estonia where we were robbed, we traveled into the more poverty stricken area, which Estonia itself was very poor just the part that we stayed in for that week was wealthier. I stayed with a Russian family and they were so cool. Oh my goodness, my homestay sister she was just awesome. She was a free spirit she didn’t have very much money, but she would dance in the street and that was the most greatful town I’ve ever been to. I would do nothing more in my life than to return, except this time bring my family.
OLGUIN: Speaking of your family, how was it when you finally got back from Europe and you were able to stay here for more than five days?
LEVERETTE: It was really difficult settling at first. Initially I was so excited to see my family, because I had been away from them for so long. My little cousin she grew up and she was speaking full sentences and starting kindergarten this year. My sister is going into highschool and I missed her eighth grade graduation. Just like the little things that I missed was kinda hard readjusting. My dad moved into a new house. I left and I lived somewhere and then I come back walking into a new house that’s apparently my home.
OLGUIN: Well thank you Jordi for being here with us today and I hope everything goes well with your trip back to Japan.
LEVERETTE: Thank you so much and thank you guys!