IU East departments merge for mariachi with fun, educational trip to Chicago

IU East departments merge for mariachi with fun, educational trip to Chicago

What do you get when you put on a trip to Chicago that’s highlighted by a mariachi opera? You obviously get a lot of interest from departments at IU East.

IU East students attend the mariachi opera in Chicago. Photo by Jessica Raposo.
IU East students attend the mariachi opera in Chicago. Photo by Jessica Raposo.

Eighty students and 20 faculty were bused there for a weekend trip that took wings by good fortune when Jessica Raposo, lecturer of music, heard about the unusual and brand-new opera.

It all started with a simple brochure that Raposo received in the mail. She thought there would be interest from her music program, especially since the opera was so unique.

But she also thought it “had potential to appeal to a lot of different groups: history, fine arts, foreign language, philosophy.”

She was right. “I approached colleagues and asked: ‘What do you think of this idea?’”

The Spanish program has an immersion event each year, so “they said, count us in.”

Honors Program and history students had already wanted to go on the trip that included a stay in Chicago.

“It just grew,” Raposo said. “Then music and arts wanted to be part of it, too.”

In all, six departments joined in for a trip. Students and instructors from the various departments visited a special site for several hours, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Oriental Institute and the Field Museum of Natural History.

“I took music students to the Auditorium Theatre for a tour,” Raposo said.

Everyone had free time in the afternoon to enjoy the city. They ate dinner and then attended the opera.

“They saw an amazingly old beautiful theater,” Raposo said. “It was nice to get a good reaction to opera. A lot of people were very surprised.”

The opera certainly wasn’t what most expected. It featured a mariachi group on stage at all times in a storyline that took place before the Mexican Revolution. The singing had no amplification, she says.

“It was a blast,” Raposo says. “I randomly run into students who say: ‘thank you so much.’”

Jenilee Braun is certainly thankful that she went. “The Chicago trip opened my eyes culturally in many ways, from the opera, to the city, and to the many people there,” she said.

Braun admitted though that there were reservations and questions that could only be answered by going along to see her first opera. “How was I to enjoy something in a language I couldn’t understand?,” she remembers asking herself. “Luckily there were subtitles, but the actors did such a great job portraying the story through tone and emotion that I caught myself looking away from the screen and just enjoying the show.”

A major reason students had to be thankful was the cost of the trip, $25 per person. That included travel, dinner and admission to the sites and the opera.

“Ross Alexander and Larry Richards basically sponsored the trip out of their offices,” Raposo said. “Our administration is good at offering scholarships.”

Alexander is dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Richards is executive vice chancellor of Academic Affairs.

“We really enjoyed the fact that we were able to show what more there is in the world,” Raposo said. “It wasn’t simply visiting another part of the United States. This was something new with so many different things to do.”

Braun is thankful that IU East supported the event.

“The School of Humanities and Social Sciences and all of the organizations involved did a great job organizing the trip and making it as enjoyable as possible,” she said.

Departments participating in the events and their leaders included:
Fine Arts: Ann Kim and Carrie Longley, assistant professors.
History: Eugene Cruz-Uribe, professor.
Honors Club: Daron Olson, assistant professor of history.
Humanities Club:  Rosalie Aldrich, assistant professor of Communication Studies.
Arts and Culture Department: Cathy Foos, associate professor of philosophy and chair of the Arts and Culture Department.
Music: Jessica Raposo, lecturer.
World Languages and Cultures: Dianne Moneypenny, assistant professor; Julien Simon, associate professor; and Christine Nemcik, lecturer.

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