Exporting Joy: Drury University Uke Club Goes to Japan

Project of
Drury University

You can help DUkes represent Springfield Sister Cities and Drury University in Isesaki, Japan this August. The group will stay with host families, perform at the Isesaki arts festival and take part in a life-changing cultural exchange.

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Project Completed

Pledge Incentives

$1.00 Level

7 Supporters

Sopranino Ukulele Level– Even though it is one of the smallest of the ukulele world, the sopranino carries a musical punch. One sopranino makes a joyful noise and a bunch of sopraninos can fill a performance hall with music, much like $1 gifts can add up to greater amounts and greater good. Every dollar donated is valued.

$25.00 Level

6 Supporters

Soprano Ukulele Level– Your gift of $25 will help pay for ground transportation for the DUkes. Between rental vans and subway tickets in Tokyo, getting the DUkes from place to place safely is a priority. Your gift will make that happen.

$50.00 Level

6 Supporters

Concert Ukulele Level– A gift of $50 will help pay for airfare for a student. Air travel is the largest expense of the trip. Most of the DUkes were born and raised in the Midwest and have not traveled beyond this region, so your gift will help them experience their first flight beyond the U.S. Plus, a $50 gift will earn you a shout-out on the DUkes Facebook page.

$100.00 Level

6 Supporters

Tenor Ukulele Level– Your gift of $100 will pay for one student’s meals during his or her stay in Japan (outside of the host family’s care). Imagine the experience of dining in Tokyo! With your generous gift, you will receive recognition on the DUkes Facebook page and a personalized thank you note signed by each member of the group.

$250.00 Level

3 Supporters

Baritone Ukulele Level– Your gift of $250 will pay for the ground transportation and meals (outside of the host family’s care) for one student. In addition to recognition on the DUkes Facebook page and a personalized thank you card signed by each member of the group, you will receive a customized “Uke-Gram” suitable for birthdays or holidays, performed by the DUkes and uploaded to a private YouTube link just for you.

$1,000.00 Level

1 Supporter

Bass Ukulele Level– Your generous gift of $1,000 will pay for the ground transportation and meals for four members of the DUkes! In appreciation, the DUkes will send you a signed, custom anime print of the group. You will also receive a shout-out on the DUkes Facebook page, a customized Uke-Gram with a private YouTube link, and a personalized thank you card from the DUkes.

$3,500.00 Level

0 Supporters

Ensemble Level– This is the amount for transportation, lodging and meals for one member of the DUkes. With this generous gift, you will receive a personalized thank you card from the DUkes, a signed anime poster of the group, recognition on the DUkes Facebook page, a custom Uke-Gram with a private YouTube link for viewing any time, and a soprano- or concert-sized ukulele of your very own! The ukulele will come with a case and tuner. *Note: The cost of the ukulele is $65, bringing your total donation value to $3,435. Please remember this during tax write-offs.

Project Overview

About the Club: The DUkes, advised by Drury University associate professor Rick Maxson, Ph.D., meets weekly at Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar on Commercial Street in Springfield. As Dr. Maxson says, “We play ukes, drink coffee and sing loudly.” The ukulele is an instrument that crosses lines of culture and diversity, bringing a joyful sound to gatherings.

The Trip: Formed in September 2012, the club quickly became a favorite of community organizers looking for bright, energetic and talented performers to entertain at functions and fundraisers. The DUkes came to the attention of the Springfield Sister Cities Association (SSCA) in January 2014, and was invited to perform at the association’s annual membership meeting in March of that year. After the performance, the Sister Cities Association selected the group to represent Springfield in Isesaki the following year.

Trip Details: The club will leave Missouri on August 1, 2015. The first stop is Hawaii, where the DUkes will stay for three days, taking in island culture and experiencing where the ukulele became popular. Plans include a luau, a local uke jam, a tour of a local ukulele factory, and a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial. On August 5, the club will travel to Tokyo, where they will be met by their host families from Isesaki. The next six days will be filled with activities, tours, celebrations, cultural events, and a performance by the DUkes at the Isesaki Arts and Music Festival. From there, the DUkes will spend three days in Tokyo, taking in the sights, sounds, food, and culture.

Trip Cost: The cost for one member of the DUkes to take part in the trip is $3,500. This covers air and ground transportation, lodging, and some meals. Each student is expected to bring his or her own spending money. Many members of the DUkes will not have the opportunity, due to limited finances, to take part in a study abroad program as part of their college education, but the trip to Japan will provide many of the same benefits, such as learning firsthand about a different culture, customs, environment, and language; developing an appreciation of differences and diversity, and cultivating independence, and resourcefulness, and a global perspective.

Since being selected by SSCA for the trip to Japan, DUkes group members have been choosing and rehearsing songs to be included in their performance in Isesaki. These songs have been gathered into the basis of the group’s many performances in the community over the past year. The organizers of most of the performances have been able to donate money toward the travel fund, but the DUkes still need $10,000 to ensure that each of the group’s ten members can participate in the trip. 


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About Drury University

Drury is a new kind of university that honors and effectively links liberal arts and sciences to the study of professional areas. In doing so, students are more authentically connected to:

  • Why what they are learning matters and how they can apply it in real life.
  • Why decisions, both personally and professionally, should come from a place of ethics and morality.
  • Faculty: accessibility is a point of pride for us because we are a teaching university.
  • The community: in the classroom, on campus and beyond.
  • Thought leaders and mentors: from freshman year to graduation to job search to alumni connections. At Drury, students make lifelong connections.
  • Wellness and sustainability as a way of life rather than a task. We believe healthy people lead happier, longer, more productive lives.
  • Community outreach as part of a life well lived.
  • A spirit of entrepreneurship, which inspires confidence, creativity and accountability.
  • An environment of collaboration where students are actively involved in enhancing their Drury experience.
  • A life well lived: Drury students learn how to connect dreams and aspirations to successful futures.

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Springfield, MO
(417) 873-7879