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Tabor Abroad: An Actor’s View on Cultural Exchange

Posted by Matthew Carvalho '19 on Feb 14, 2019 1:53:46 PM

This year, during the month of April, Tabor will once again partake in an exchange with Ellesmere College in England, as actors from this year’s fall drama head over the Atlantic over spring break to tour with our show, Lucky Me, across the United Kingdom.

Fine Italian Dining in LondonWith this being my second time participating in the exchange, I am thrilled to reconnect with all of the friends I made in England my sophomore year and to share our new show with them. Two years ago, I was part of the cast of The Laramie Project, a much darker show than the one we are taking this year. Our new show, Lucky Me, is written by us, the actors, with the help of our wonderful director, Ms. Jesse Hawley. This show reflects on the concept of luck and what it means to be lucky, whether that be through the lottery, by fortune, or in relationships. Containing everything from an angered cat to flustered college counselors to even toy instruments, it is surely a masterpiece that I will not forget anytime soon.

While the logistics and landscapes of the trip will be similar, I think it is going to be a whole new experience given that we have an almost entirely new cast. Two of my good friends, Aaliyah Garcia ’19 and Emma Quirk ’20, are especially excited for the trip and I am eager to live the experience through their fresh perspective. “I’m excited to visit Ireland because I was born on St. Patrick’s Day,” says Aaliyah, while Emma shares that “Since I’ve never been outside of America, I’m excited to go to a new area of the world with all of my friends, and perform a show that we’re all extremely proud of.” Everyone takes away a different perspective through travel. When I first went on the trip, having not traveled that far before, I expected an entirely different experience than the one I had. I had this vision of a world drastically different than our own back home; however, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our countries have a lot more in common culturally than I anticipated. In Ireland, you still had strip malls and McDonald’s like you would see in America, and even street performers like the ones I’ve seen at Faneuil Hall in Boston. While, yes, they do drink a lot of tea over in the U.K., they do not display the expected “tea time” or other rituals I think we so often associate them with. Other than their accents, people in the U.K. are pretty similar to people back here in the U.S.

IMG_7408If there’s anything my first adventure to the U.K. taught me, it is that this trip bonds you with your cast more than you could possibly imagine. Between the five hours on a plane and the ten days of living together, it is truly an experience that forges lasting friendships. I’m lucky enough to consider my cast mates my friends anyways, so I can only wait to see how close we are after spending a week abroad. Culturally, I was surprised to learn that our English peers had similar concerns as we have here in America.  They prioritize their friendships and relationships just as we do. In the dorms, the culture is similar to what I’ve seen around Tabor’s campus, with my peers and I bonding quickly due to the intimacy of living with one another over our time there. Even though most of my dorm mates were devoted rugby players and had never acted before in their lives, we were still able to connect and become good friends because of the similarities in dorm culture between their school and Tabor. While I may be a day student, I have still learned much about the social culture of boarding life at Tabor, and being able to notice how similar the two experiences are allowed me to make real connections with my peers. It was nice to be hosted by students our own age and to be able to interact easily with them, as friends, over the course of our time at their school.

Soon after we return to the U.S., we will have the opportunity to host the actors from Ellesmere, as they come to perform their show for our school. I was able to host an exchange student during the spring of my sophomore year, and I cannot wait to do the same this year. Some of the students coming are returning friends from two years ago, making the experience that much more fun. The Ellesmere students always put on an incredible performance, and I cannot wait to see the show they plan on bringing this spring. The shows are typically traditionally British in nature, allowing a sharing of some of their culture and history with us. 

As my time at Tabor comes to a close, I am glad that I get to end my senior year on such a fantastic note. I hope that this program continues for years to come so that other students can enjoy combining their love of drama with a cultural experience among students their own age abroad. It was one of the most memorable and unique experiences of my sophomore year, and I am absolutely sure that this time around will be even better.


Topics: International Learning