Student Groups Hit The Road Over Break

While most undergraduates scattered to the wind this spring break, heading home to spend their scant free time lounging on the couch, a number of student groups stuck together, travelling en masse out of the city, the state or the country.

The Glee Club completed their 78th annual Spring Tour with performances in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Immediate Gratification Players (IGP) were performing improvisational comedy shows in San Francisco, and the Harvard Association Cultivating Inter-American Democracy (HACIA) was sponsoring its annual democracy conference in Panama.

"Spring break is a great opportunity to go on tour," says Glee Club President Ian K. Tzeng '98.

It is a tradition for the Glee Club to go on tour during spring break. This year they went West, performing six concerts in eight days.

This year's highlights included performances at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Occidental College outside of Los Angeles and St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego.

"We had a great time," Tzeng says. "We spent most afternoons in the city or on the beach." The 60 club members also went to Disneyland and the San Diego Zoo.

"It gets fairly complicated, trying to keep track of 60 people," Tzeng says.

"Fortunately, we didn't have any surprises on the tour this year--no forgetting people, no problems with the performance spaces or churches," he says.

While everything went smoothly for the Glee Club, IGP learned some lessons about conducting spring break trips.

"We had never been on a long trip before," says "trip czar" C. Larry Malm '00.

"Then one of our troupe members offered to have 12 members sleep on the floor and share one bathroom in a very small apartment in San Francisco," he adds. "Of course we accepted."

The members of IGP have taken weekend trips to perform in New York City and Montreal, but this was their first cross-country journey.

"Twelve of us, six days--we were expecting the worst," Malm says. "But it was a very good experience, a very bonding experience."

Malm learned about getting inexpensive airline tickets--"When you have a group of more than 10, the trick is to play a lot of airlines off of each other"--and the rest of the group learned about smoothies.

"Smoothies are a big deal in California, and someone had one in the van," Malm says. "He didn't hold it right, and it exploded over everyone in the van."

"We ran down the street with our pants down to our knees because we were in a rush to get to the airport," he says of their dash to change clothes before the flight..

IGP also gave a free performance at San Francisco's Pier 39.

"It was an absolutely phenomenal time," says IGP member Justin M. Krebs '00.

While the Glee Club and IGP performed, HACIA sponsored its annual government simulation conference for high school students throughout the Western hemisphere. The group's focus is Latin America.

"The special thing about HACIA is that we're teaching democracy to a part of the world that needs it so badly," says Program Director Mario J. Garcia-Serra '98.

"Latin America hasn't had democracy for very long and teaching young people about the process is vital to it's success," he says.

The four-day conference took place at the University of Panama in Panama City. There were approximately 200 participants from Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Canada.

Participants play the roles of politicians serving in international political bodies, such as the Organization of American States.

"It's really an amazing experience for all of us," says HACIA President Mercedes S. Hinton '98. "We collaborate with a committee of Panamanian students to make it all happen."

"We also stay in host families, which makes the cultural exchange even better," she says.

Twenty-three Harvard students participated in the conference this year. Next year HACIA will move its operations to Costa Rica.

"The most rewarding part about it is the friends you make," Garcia-Serra says. "It's my third time going, and I felt like I was just going to see old friends and family."