After a year of serving as both Tour Manager and Vice President of Glee Club, nothing could have felt better after graduation than a long, relaxing trip through Europe, singing with my brothers in song. We had an incredible assortment of experiences, many of which you’ve already read about, but each gave us its own unique collection of gifts. One gift with which we were blessed throughout the tour was seeing just how far the Notre Dame Community extends. I don’t think this was ever better exhibited than it was in Zurich.
Upon arriving in Switzerland, we started our day off at a ropes course, where we got to climb, hang, and zipline our way through the trees. It was a great time. When we finished, we were fed by our gracious hosts, before being introduced to the people whose homes we would share for the next day and a half.
Now, we’re used to home stays. We travel domestically twice a year, and along the way we’ve gotten to stay with families from all around the United States. But never before had any current members of the group gotten to do a home stay on an international tour. Throughout my time in Glee Club, I’ve gotten to experience a lot of home stays. As Tour Manager, I even set up a lot of them. They’re always different, but it seems that everyone with whom we stay shares one trait: an open heart. The Swiss were no different. Some knew more English than others, but this didn’t affect how they welcomed us. If anything, it made us feel even more welcome. I would imagine that it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to welcome a group of 20 year-old men into your home when you don’t even speak the same primary language. So I was really touched to see that same open heart that welcomed us from Orange County to Delaware make an appearance across the Atlantic, all the way over in Zurich, Switzerland.
I stayed with Zach Osterholz, Christianos Burlotos, and Jack Brooks. Our host? Crazily enough, a Notre Dame Alum. Paul Schreier was his name, and he has been in Zurich for about 15 years. He has a great passion that he chose to share with us, and that is climbing mountain peaks. After a relaxing dinner and a good night’s sleep, we left with Paul to climb in the Alps. The particular mountain we climbed was called Grosse Mythe, and it is over 6000 feet tall. For those of you scoring at home, that’s over 28 Hesburgh Libraries stacked on top of each other (Now THAT would be a real “Hesburgh Challenge”). We climbed, and as we did, we saw the world shrink as we approached the peak. While enjoying the great view, we sang the Notre Dame Victory March on the peak for Paul. How cool is that? Singing the Victory March on top of a mountain for a Notre Dame Alum who lives halfway around the world. What a testament to how far the shadow of Our Lady extends.
After descending Grosse Mythe, we took a beautiful tour of Lake Zurich on Paul’s sailboat. It was a great way to relax leading up to our concert, which was, fittingly, situated on top of a hill. Our concert was packed. Once again, this was thanks to the hard work and generosity of our hosts. How lucky we were to have them. We felt great about the concert in the space, and left Zurich more than happy. We left with a new lesson in how the culture of caring for others is present across all borders. We left with the newfound knowledge that Notre Dame truly has no borders.
T.J. Dean is a graduate of the Class of 2015 with degrees in both Vocal Performance and Management Consulting. The Glee Club will miss T.J.’s effort, ability, and perspective next year, so we’re glad that he’ll be starting his career just across state lines in Chicago.
This is the eighth post in a twelve part series chronicling the Glee Club’s recent tour of Europe. Don’t miss Hunter Kuffel’s amusing addition to this series in his curious memoir on Dijon, France.
To see more photos of Zurich, check out the Flickr album!