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College of Education > News and Publications > News: 2009 > Amber Mallow Tours Pacific Rim with Essence of Joy Choral Ensemble

Amber Mallow Tours Pacific Rim with Essence of Joy Choral Ensemble

Amber Mallow recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Rim with the choral group Essence of Joy. The choir toured Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.

By Kala Burke (July 2009)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Amber Mallow, an Elementary and Kindergarten Education major in the Penn State College of Education, recently returned from a trip to the Pacific Rim with the Essence of Joy choral ensemble. She says the trip was an amazing experience.

Essence of Joy toured the countries of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan over eighteen days in May. The choir balanced time performing with time sightseeing, giving Amber many cherished memories of her trip.

On May 25th, the group visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which Mallow calls a surreal experience. On this day, North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb in an underground bunker, adding significance to the visit.

“It was not until after we had stood at the border to North Korea that we were told what was happening in North Korea,” says Mallow. “We were able to see the sanctuary for plants and animals that has been created in the DMZ. However, we were also able get a better understanding of the constant fear that the people of South Korea live in on a daily basis. We were introduced to some of the soldiers who were there to monitor us. It was hard to understand that they are my age. It was a great learning experience and a very humbling experience as well.”

Other highlights of the trip included a candle light service in a Buddhist temple in Taiwan, and a train ride past Mt. Fuji in Japan.

“It’s hard to describe this past trip in words,” says Mallow, “but to sum it up I would have to say that I have found appreciation for family, for my faith, for my freedoms, and for Essence of Joy.”

Essence of Joy performs sacred and secular music from the African and African American traditions. The choir has released five compact disc recordings and has toured across the United States, as well as internationally. The choir is directed by Dr. Anthony Leach and has over 50 members.

“It is impossible not to smile when I think about Essence of Joy,” she says. “This group is truly the joy in my college career.”

In addition to her education degree, Mallow is planning on pursuing a minor in Spanish. Her goal is to become dual certified in Elementary Education and Spanish Education. She hopes to work in an inner-city school upon graduation in order to work with English Language Learners.

“I want to teach where nobody else will teach. I want to help the students who need it the most. I have also considered a long-term mission to a Spanish-speaking country to teach English or work in an orphanage. I am looking forward to a challenge when I graduate because I really do want to make a difference.”