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.