A World Away – Agnes Wright ‘11

Agnes Wright ’11 knew she was in for an exciting senior year when she learned that the Saint Mary’s Women’s Choir would be touring China during spring break.

Agnes, a finance business administration major with minors in music and math, has been actively involved with the music since her freshman year. Not only has she been a board member three of her four years in Women’s Choir, but she has also participated in the College’s Madrigal Dinners the last four years as well as being a member of Bellacappella, an all-female student run a cappella group.  

The excursion to China was Agnes’ second tour with the Women’s Choir, the last being a weeklong trip singing at different cities in the Midwest and Canada. Never having traveled outside of North America, Agnes was extremely excited to travel to China.

“Being able to travel to China was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Agnes says enthusiastically. “Not only was I immersed in a culture so different from my own, but I was able to see a beautiful country with some of my closest friends. It was absolutely amazing.”  

Agnes and the other 32 members of the choir traveled throughout China, visiting Nanjing, Suzhou, and Shanghai, singing at different colleges and universities. She thoroughly enjoyed their sightseeing around the country. The students learned how to communicate with shopkeepers, using calculators to bargain back and forth on prices. They visited museums in Nanjing and climbed all 392 steps of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. They also visited the Shanghai Zoo.

“Only a handful of us went to the Zoo,” she says. “We were all really excited to see live pandas because most of us had never seen one before.”

Agnes thoroughly enjoyed herself on the tour and thought it was fascinating that the people of China found the choir to be so interesting. Numerous people asked to take pictures with choir members.

“We were like celebrities,” she says. “Most of the people in China haven’t ever seen Americans before. Apparently, they also find our faces fascinating to look at.”

The members of the choir were assigned pen pals before they left for China. Agnes met her pen pal, Wei Wei, when they arrived and received a variety of gifts from her, including a hand painted coin purse, a Chinese fan, and a pair of chopsticks.

“Our pen pals were always concerned about what we wanted to do and always made sure we were treated like guests,” Agnes says. “One night we went out to dinner and they took us to Pizza Hut saying ‘we know you like it.’ They wanted us to feel comfortable and eat food that was familiar to us.”

Agnes has enjoyed her four years with the Women’s Choir and will miss all of her friends. She will also miss being under the direction of music professor Nancy Menk, their conductor.

“Dr. Menk has allowed me to grow not only vocally, but as a young woman,” Agnes says. “She has always been there for us and is an incredible role model. I will miss her and Women’s Choir terribly.”

To read more about the Women’s Choir’s tour to China, check out a blog by fellow choir member Joy Viceroy ’13.

-Krystina Harcourt ‘11