We love it when alumni get in touch with us and tell us about how their experience with Outward Bound has inspired them in their lives after course. Recently, we heard from Jeremy Danneman, whose Outward Bound experience and love for music and entertainment has inspired him to travel half way around the world to Rwanda…
We wanted to share his story… in his own words:
Outward Bound’s Teachings on Parade!
It was fifteen years ago, but the endless rain is still so distinct in my mind. We knew we’d be enduring tough physical and mental challenges, but the weather was something to persevere in and of itself, even without having to backpack miles and miles everyday. Our instructors told us we had smaller slopes to climb than the students in Colorado, but that we paid for it with the added weight of wet boots and gear. As the storms continued through our whole first week of backpacking and we slept with our wet clothes to dry them with our body heat, it became apparent to me what my role among my classmates was. The instructors said we each had to find our own way of serving the group, and some volunteered to carry a little extra weight; others offered their culinary skills at mealtime, and still others had a knack for navigation. I saw the importance of boosting morale though, especially in the midst of all this bad weather. I might’ve left my saxophone at home, but the duties of the entertainer followed me into the forest. At some point as we were shivering and huddled under the tarp for another dinner in the rain, it dawned on me. I simply had to make people laugh, and so I started making sculptures out of uneaten beans. Being the entertainer came to naturally to me; I discovered that serving the group didn’t have to be a forced thing. Maybe once we find our natural inclinations we can logically follow them to a helpful purpose.
Later in the expedition we were sent on our solo missions. “Solo” is a term loaded with significance for an improvising jazz musician, but now it was taking on a whole new context. We each had to endure long hours alone and even sleep overnight by ourselves in the middle of the wilderness. Now there was no one to entertain but myself. I was going to have to learn to be my own audience. Essentially, I would become better at conversing with myself.
I started the Parade of One project a little over a year ago, with one of the purposes being to liberate myself as a musician from the traditional molds of performance, to let the unconventional ideas be enacted, and to do the things I couldn’t have imagined without this delicate skill of conversing with myself. So far the Parade of One project has brought me to Rwanda, where in 2009 I performed on the street for four weeks to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the Genocide against the Tutsi and to celebrate peace. I am going back to Africa this summer, to continue playing for peace in Rwanda during their tense election period, and to screen the world premier of my musical documentary Rwanda 15 at the Zanzibar International Film Festival.
Always in the back of my mind lately, is an image of myself and a bunch of kids, huddled under a rain tarp, talking about this most important of Outward Bound lessons: always try to expand your “comfort zone.” Those words ring ever more true to me these days! As I return to Rwanda, performing in unconventional conditions for a foreign audience, I hope I will continue to stretch the boundaries of where I thought I’d go.
For more info on The Parade of One project please visit www.paradeofone.org.
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