Local siblings form new musical duo

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Stewiacke Slueth, By Heather Hamilton

International students say Stewiacke perfect place for foreign experience

The Town of Stewiacke is all set to welcome locals and visitors alike to their annual Ravenous for Rhubarb Festival June 13 to 15 with all the great events you’ve come to love, plus a few new additions. For a full schedule check out the local bulletin boards, the Town’s website (www.stewiacke.net), on Facebook or in person at the Town Office (902-639-2231).

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The Wittenburg Baptist Church is pleased to present a wonderful evening concert with the Lumber River Quartet on June 21 at 7 p.m. For more information on this and other exciting happenings at the church, contact 902-639-2072 or visit www.wittenburgbaptist.org.

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The Winding River Art Gallery welcomed a full house of guests to its official season’s grand opening on May 9. You really have to see it to truly appreciate the expansive collection of amazing craftsmanship available for purchase right in our own backyard. The Gallery is now open on the lower level of Mastodon Ridge every day from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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The Stewiacke area has always been bursting with musical talent, representing almost every possible genre. I was recently honoured to witness the debut of yet another young group adding their unique sound to the musical melting pot with a style all their own. Archer Lee is a brother/sister duo of string musicians who play with such passion and joy their audience can’t help but get caught up in the rhythm of the toe-tapping beat. Clayton and Rosanna Burrill have been playing, singing and performing since they were children, along with their other siblings, but have only recently been able to focus their energy into making their dream of a full-time performing career into a reality.

Their first CD, On the Lam, is now available, and they’re setting up a touring schedule to get their music heard by as many people as possible. They’re completely enjoying the thrill of performing and meeting their audience face-to-face. Their biggest challenge seems to be when they’re asked to name their genre. Pegged as acoustic, instrumental, traditional folk, their true style really defies a specific label.

In her own words, when asked about her inspiration while composing, Rosanna says, “I love drawing ideas from classical, newgrass, Irish, pop and other various styles of music. When you open yourself up to different musical genres, the possibilities are endless!”

She’s also inspired by the fun of working so closely with her brother, Clayton, who loves to push boundaries in his music writing. Once everything comes together, Clayton says, the process just happens on its own and that’s pretty satisfying.

For both of them, their work provides a unique avenue for showcasing their amazing talents on the guitar, mandolin and violin. A classically trained violinist, but certainly not afraid of a good, foot-stomping old-school jig, Rosanna is excited about her musical future and is keen to continue on her path of learning and growing as a musician and violinist. Her brother certainly shares her enthusiasm. Just watching them perform together is a clear indication of the passion these young folks have for their craft.

I asked them what they want their audience to take away from an Archer Lee concert. Rosanna responds easily with, “Ultimately, I want people to experience the joy that Clayton and I feel when we get to perform. A lot of what we write is very happy and upbeat, so I would wish for our audience to come away feeling uplifted.” 

You can follow Archer Lee on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archerleemusic, or Twitter @ArcherLeeMusic. Their CD On the Lam, is available at http://archerlee.bandcamp.com/releases. A website will be up and running within a few weeks, too, or you can email them at archerleemusic@gmail.com. Best of all, try to catch a live performance — you’ll truly enjoy it.

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting five young people who have been calling Stewiacke their home-away-from-home while they attend South Colchester Academy. They are just some of the teenagers from around the world studying here through the Nova Scotia International Student Program. This program is a joint venture between the provincial Department of Education and the seven school boards. It provides an amazing, full-immersion opportunity for students from other countries to learn about our culture and strengthen their English skills, better preparing them for a global future.

Link Zhon from China, Mads-Noah Haar from Germany and Lukas Grüger, also from Germany, are all 17 and finishing grade 11 this spring. The boys shared their thoughts on the lunchroom food (quite a change from what they were used to at home), the short school days (done in the early afternoon and no weekend? But lots of homework!) and the wide availability of sports (right there at school — that’s great!). They were very appreciative of their host families and the many opportunities they’ve had to join in on family activities, tour around local sights and get to experience life in this region to its fullest, and also the effort their families have taken to find food as close to their home cuisine as possible — quite a challenge it turns out, no matter how “authentic” the label says it is!

DaBin Jang, 18, from South Korea, has been studying in Canada since she was 14 and after going home for the summer will be returning to St. Mary’s University to study business. She loves Canada so much she hopes to gain citizenship some day and make this her permanent home. Her roommate Isabelle Andrare, 17, from Brazil, is graduating with DaBin and will continue studying at an international school in China, but hopes to return to Nova Scotia for further studies as well. Both girls say Stewiacke is the perfect place for an international student. With the central ‘downtown’ area and other places within walking distance, they were able to get together with their new friends easily and didn’t feel like they had to ask their host families for assistance every time they wanted to go somewhere.

Bruce Mitchell and Jean Wright have been hosting international students for five years. They’ve had students from Guatemala, Germany, Turkey and Belgium. Neil and Mona Howse are retiring from the program after seven years and 22 international students. Their own kids have all graduated and at the end of this school year they will truly have an empty nest. But they expect the connections they’ve made to continue on for many years to come. One of their sons, in fact, enjoyed the benefits of his international connections while on his own global travels — he actually had familiar faces and welcoming homes to stay with in three different countries. Sheldon and Valerie Dorey are another local host family providing an opportunity for an international exchange of experiences and knowledge.

Overall, the message from the host families is a high recommendation to participate. It’s a wonderful opportunity to open up your home to a whole new world and expand your Stewiacke family to include members from around the world. And while you’re teaching your guest about our culture, you’re also learning about theirs: their food, language and customs. One host parent has said, “I will never be able to send my children around the world, so why not bring the world to them by hosting international students?" What an amazing gift to give your own family.

The program provides lots of support through joint activities with other host families, regular contact and information, and a stipend to offset extra costs. For more information, contact June Fisher, the local home stay coordinator, at 902-896-5546 or fisherj@ccrsb.ca.

Heather Hamilton has lived in East Stewiacke for more than 25 years and is an avid supporter of her community. If you have community news the Stewiacke Sleuth should know about, contact her at stewiackesleuth@gmail.com.

 

Organizations: Town Office, Wittenburg Baptist Church, Winding River Art Gallery South Colchester Academy Department of Education

Geographic location: Stewiacke, Germany, China Canada South Korea Mary Brazil Nova Scotia Guatemala Turkey Belgium

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