When I first arrived in Austria, I went on a welcome hike with some of the teachers I'd be working with the following year. My primary focus up to this point being music, they asked me all of the common questions: when did you start, what instruments do you play, etc. When I mentioned that I liked to sing in choir, they immediately told me I had to email the director of the Bregenzer Kammerchor. He graciously let me join, and I started attending weekly rehearsals. As is often the case with choir, everyone was very friendly and did their best to make me feel welcome. Being a part of the choir, of course, helped me learn the dialect better; but in a much more important way, it made me feel like I was a part of the community. I was not trying to teach them about American politics or clarifying the finer points of English grammar. We were simply there to be together, to laugh, and to sing.
William Bolles-Beaven received his bachelor’s degree in composition from Oberlin College. He was a US teaching assistant during the 2018–19 school year.