Shortly after I returned home from teaching students and training teachers at the 2005 Festival sponsored by Suzuki Association of El Salvador (ASUSAL), one of the new guitar teachers sent an email. She was invited to begin a program at a school nearby, but seventy-five students had signed up and there were only three guitars! A few weeks later at the Colorado Suzuki Institute, I learned that through the “Viva Suzuki!” program, several guitars had been donated. Fortunately through the generosity of this program, three of the guitars were available to be given to the Suzuki Association of El Salvador.

At this point, I started to wonder how they would be moved from Denver to San Salvador. In the meantime, they would go to my Houston studio while I figured it out. One of the CSI violin faculty members, Lucy Shaw, had driven from Texas for the Institute and had room in her van for the guitars. She drove them home with her and I picked them up from her house. They sat under the counter in my studio. The next Salvadoran festival was scheduled for February 2006, but it was canceled and rescheduled for February 2007.

In the interim, Nelly, one of the Board Members of ASUSAL visited her family in Houston, but it was such a crazy, hectic week that she was not able to take them back with her on the plane.

As February 2007 drew near, I vowed I would find a way to get those guitars on the plane with me to El Salvador. They were donated for that purpose and I longed for them to be in the hands of children where they belonged. I boxed them up all the while fearful of what might happen at the airport, both here in Houston and in San Salvador.

When I arrived at the check-in counter, I was told that the charge for the box over the two-bag limit was $80. I explained about the donations and the program in El Salvador. The agent was sympathetic but said she still had to charge me, but she called a supervisor, and I showed them literature that I had about the “Viva Suzuki!” program.

After all of that, he also said he didn’t have the authority to waive the fee. Everyone agreed I needed to pay the airline $80 for the box. The supervisor walked away and the agent continued checking the baggage, then handed me my boarding pass and said, “Thank you, Good bye.”

I hesitated and said “But I haven’t paid…”

She looked at me very sternly and said “THANK YOU. GOOD BYE.”

I was totally overcome! What a nice gesture!

In San Salvador, the Customs Official was suspicious. He unpacked the box and examined each instrument. He asked for documents, but couldn’t read the information since it was in English.

He called a supervisor over. This man looked at me, looked at the paper and said in Spanish something like, “What’s the big deal? Let her go.”

In a ceremony at the conclusion of the Final Concert, the guitars were presented to Julio Rodriguez, the president of ASUSAL.

Final guitar concert at the IV Festival Internacional Suzuki en El Salvador

Final guitar concert at the IV Festival Internacional Suzuki en El Salvador.

For more information regarding the “Viva Suzuki!” program, contact Gail Seay at [javascript protected email address]