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by Charlene Briner
It doesn’t take much more than kindness and a little music to turn disappointment into an unexpected gift. That’s what a group of young men did for two little boys and their mother on Thursday at the State Capitol.
The Kenyan Boys Choir (KBC), is an international singing group that’s performed everywhere from the United Nations to President Barack Obama’s inauguration. They are currently touring North America with WE, an organization that encourages students to volunteer and engage in community service. The singers are spending a few extra days in Minnesota for a series of free performances that includes stops at several at local schools, the Department of Education and a concert at the Capitol late yesterday afternoon.
The Capitol concert had wrapped up, the set had been struck and the singers were headed to the exit to get to their next stop when they ran headlong into a young mother and her two sons rushing up the stairs to catch the performance that had just ended. The mother, who apparently had come to Minnesota from East Africa, had driven up from her home in the southern suburbs to see the choir, and I imagine, to hear some of the sounds of her home. Unfamiliar with the Capitol complex, it had taken more time than she’d planned to find a parking spot and navigate to the entrance, and by the time she and her boys arrived, it was too late.
Distraught when she realized they’d missed the concert, the woman appeared on the verge of tears as she looked at her boys and tried to explain what had happened. It was hard not to empathize at that moment: every parent knows that pit-in-your-stomach feeling you get when circumstances conspire against you to make you feel like you’ve let your kids down.
A few members of the KBC had stopped to listen to the mother. A minute later as if by some sort of unspoken signal, the entire group had turned back around and formed a half-circle around the boys and their mother. And then they proceeded to serenade the little family with a lovely African tune.
That’s the rollercoaster. In an instant, anticipation turns to disappointment, then disappointment turns to joy. And some talented young men from across the ocean provide a moment of grace and remind you that kindness – and a little music – is never the wrong choice.
Charlene Briner is the deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education. Video courtesy of Emily Bisek.