|Little Joe McLerran Quartet leaves Oman after 4 weeks on the Rhythm Road|
|Will and David sporting new Omani kumas|
Monday morning, I was back teaching kids at Edison Middle School. I’m teaching the same curriculum I taught before I embarked on my journey. However, I feel that I'm looking at the world through different eyes. My life has been so enriched by this cultural exchange. Now, when I teach kids here, I can share with them about teaching kids at the Kanoo International School in Bahrain or the Azzan bin Qais School in Oman, or talk about Saudi women studying engineering at Effat University, or share about jamming with Abo Siraj and the Saudi musicians, or explain about the sheer joy our music brought the kids at the Help Center in Jeddah. I'll also be able to describe the incredible people who serve our country in foreign lands. The men and women who work for the US State Department, the US Marines who protect the Embassies and Consulates, and the Ambassadors who represent our country, all are dedicated, knowledgeable and have special gifts for connecting with others. I hope to be able to share all of that with every student I teach.
I bring home with me a much better understanding of the people of the Persian Gulf. By spending time listening to people, sharing meals and playing music, it has helped to inform me about a life and culture I knew very little about. I hope that the people who crossed paths with us also have a better understanding of Americans. My belief that music is the universal language and transcends all barriers continues to be validated.
I owe a most heartfelt thank you and debt of gratitude to our friends at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Their commitment to this mission of diplomacy through music is of the highest order. From the training they provided us, to their support, and their planning and logistics, even getting us home around the Icelandic volcano, was incredible. I am honored to have served such a fine organization and fine people.
Finally, I give a very special thank you to my fellow travelers on the Rhythm Road. I'm grateful that Little Joe, Robbie, and Ronnie asked me to join them in this project. We formed a professional ensemble that was highly successful at delivering the message to the people. Everywhere we went, we had a positive impact, and we were often part of groundbreaking events. Little did we know that we might make history through music. We did the Bahraini Boogie, the Saudi Shuffle, the Kuwaiti Quiver and the Omani Mambo! I shall never forget it.