FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - It was an emotional send-off as parents, friends, and community members gave their well-wishes to the Voices of Unity Youth Choir Sunday afternoon as they began their journey to Riga, Latvia.
Choir members said they’ve been putting in nearly 12 hour days this summer preparing for this trip. Thirty-seven students and their chaperones loaded the buses headed to Chicago on Sunday. From Chicago, the group will fly around nine hours.
There are 29 categories for choirs to compete in during the nearly two weeks of competition. Voices of Unity is currently ranked 93 out of one thousand choirs in the world. Leaders said taking trips like this has always been a goal, but the most important aspect is the life-lessons the students learn while traveling, which is often an opportunity many of the members thought they’d never have.
“This has been something that’s been in our plan since 1997, and it’s a reality now, and now that it is a reality, we are becoming a global phenomenon which is incredible because we are right here from Fort Wayne, and I think this community is excited about it,” Voices of Unity Youth Choir director, Marshall White, said.
Tim Ash with Ash Brokerage gave the choir a donation to help fund the trip. He was there Sunday at the choir’s send off and gave the students a few words of encouragement before their departure. The choir has a goal of raising $500,000 for this trip. Currently, they’ve raised just over $470,000. People can still make donations to the group while they are traveling.
This is the second international trip the choir has taken. Four years ago they went to China. Director White said the choir has also recently gotten invitations to sing in London and Rome.
The choir will return to Fort Wayne early in the morning on July 23.