Meet the Athens Spring Break Trip team
By Grace Hooley | Echo
If you need glasses, you can get them. If it works with your schedule, you can attend concerts and meaningful plays in performance venues minutes from your dorm room. Other countries may not have those luxuries. This spring, members of the Taylor Sounds, Playback Theatre and Wes Rediger will be bringing these three things to Greece.
From March 18 to March 26, volunteers from Taylor Sounds and the Playback Theatre Group are venturing to Athens, Greece, to work in three refugee camps. Professor of Music and Director of Choral Ensembles JoAnn Rediger will lead the Sounds members, and Managing and Artistic Director of Theatre Tracy Manning will lead the Playback group.
Several individuals will also join the two groups. Senior and Film and Media Production major Jamie Bell will document the trip, and former Sounds member Renae Timbie (’07) and Mark Vanest (’92) will translate. Dean of School of Humanities and Arts and Biblical Studies Michael Hammond hopes to build academic opportunities by observing the ministry and different programs that might be possible for other Taylor students interested in coming over. He will be joined by his daughter, Elizabeth Hammond. Wes Rediger, JoAnn Rediger’s husband, will bring glasses to fit refugees in need of proper eyewear. These volunteers have joined for various reasons, but they all have one main goal: extending a hand to refugees.
This group wants to be the hands and feet of hope. Five volunteers from the Taylor Playback Theatre will be listening to and retelling refugee stories with children and teenagers in “theatre camps.” These actors and actresses hope to absorb the refugee story and retell it while sharing scripture.
The Sounds will also be performing, but these performances will have a twist. They will include choirs created from the refugee camps they visit. This group will be working with senior Diana Romeos and her family’s organization, Advancing the Ministry of the Gospel, to prepare and teach the refugees this music. Right now, the refugees are already learning the musical pieces, so when the Sounds arrive, they’ll be ready to rehearse. Later in this trip, the Sounds will perform with these refugee choirs in churches.
“We will be making music with them, not just entertaining them,” JoAnn Rediger said. “We are trying to form choirs that remain when we leave.”
Along with forming a choir, the group will be bringing eyewear to the refugee camps. Wes Rediger’s friend, Gordan Mendenhall (’70), shared that he was fitting men, women and children in Africa with the correct eyewear to see the world around them, and that’s when the idea popped into Wes Rediger’s head: he could do the same in Greece. Mendenhall taught Wes Rediger how to fit someone with the right pair of glasses, and Wes Rediger began sharing with different organizations in hopes of donations. Wes Rediger now has over 300 pairs of glasses to take with him overseas.
This will be the Sounds’ fourth trip to Greece. With each adventure the Sounds take, they build on the last one. According to JoAnn Rediger, the most recent trip to Greece only entailed one refugee camp. The Sounds and Playback will be stationed in Athens and will travel to three refugee camps: an Afghani camp, a Sunni camp and a Kurdish camp.
“We hope to simply offer our gifts, engage people with the Psalms and its themes and be a faithful presence in the culture,” Manning said.
Senior Grace Bolinger, a member of Playback going on the trip, is excited to be working alongside the Sounds, and she hopes God will move through them all as they work. She sees the language barrier and witnessing the difficult circumstances the refugees live in as challenging.
“Please be praying,” Bolinger said. “I think a lot of us don’t necessarily know what to expect, but I do feel the Lord helping prepare us, and I feel His presence surrounding our work. We need to be fully dependent on Him, because apart from Him, we can do absolutely nothing.”