An educational journey through choral singing Victoria Liedbergius, Sweden and María Catalina Prieto, Colombia Maybe you, as a reader, will find it strange that this article should be written by two persons who were born in two extremely different places of the world. What can a Swedish and a Colombian girl possibly have in common? Well, actually we have more in common and more to share than anyone can imagine, and all of this was possible to the unique magic of choral singing. 10 years ago things probably may have looked different, but today almost anything is possible. We live in a world getting smaller everyday, where distance is no longer a problem for communicating, a world that provides us with all the tools to be able to meet each other. Nevertheless, even though the physical boundaries tend to disappear, barriers still exist all over the world, which is shown by the many conflicts between countries caused by the lack of understanding, the understanding of that others might have more in common with you than what you ever imagined. “A choir is never stronger than its weakest link” Singing in a choir is not just about singing, it requires an open mind, a will to cooperate and to make compromises; to achieve a good musical result you need to care about the group of singers just as much as the music. Through choral music we have realised that the concept of “learning” nowadays is much broader than what we get to learn inside a classroom. Your social values and abilities are now just as highly appreciated as your technical knowledge. This is not, as some people might think, something that you are born with or not, it is all about learning. We learned this and much more in an excellent school, not an expensive or traditional one, but a life-changing project; a project building bridges of youth by means of high-quality music, creating lifelong links between human beings, giving you the right to be different because being different is the first step towards speaking the same language, giving the audience and the singers the chance to have the world on stage. It is called the World Youth Choir. For someone who has not experienced the World Youth Choir, it might be difficult to understand the magnificence of its nature but perhaps the words of its manager, Vladimir Opacic, can put it better: “The World Youth Choir was, is and will be the unique project on this planet which brings people from different cultures and nations together for an unforgettable moment of their lives. It gives people the chance to develop themselves in every possible aspect of their beings and through music be able to learn the real essence of life...” For three weeks twice a year, 80 young singers from all over the world have the chance to interact while making high quality music. People should not be surprised that after the session one is able to say “good morning” in more than seven languages, one can understand the reality of what the news show every night about a specific region of the world, and has even made professional contacts. The audience can feel the special connection that is taking place on the stage; a World Youth Choir concert is unforgettable both for the singers and the audience who have attended it. It gives people the hope of a different world; for sure it makes better people, better citizens, better human beings. Sometimes the members cannot talk to each other but on stage they are all the same; they can hold hands or dance or smile, but always together because there is only one word the one that belongs to all. So this is how this Swedish and this Colombian met. Someday in the middle of a session we realised how similar we were, how we could recognise that we had the same dreams and thoughts. We could see how it can be possible, despite our different environments, to share so many things! Among those, we both had the firm conviction that it was worth working for the choir life in the world, starting with the World Youth Choir network for which we had to make things happen, that singers (and especially both of us) needed to give back a little from what we had received by living this experience. The singers are all ambassadors of tolerance and peace, the reason why UNESCO has given the choir the title: Artist for Peace.