Baylor Songleaders take on 28th Shanghai Tourism Festival

The Baylor Songleaders performed in the 28th Annual Shaghai Tourism Festival as the only team from the United States Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

Brooke Hill | Staff Writer

The Baylor Songleaders traveled to Shanghai, China, to participate in the 28th Annual Shanghai Tourism Festival.

During the week of Sept. 6-13, the team was in Shanghai to perform in the tourism parade, at the Shanghai TV Tower and at a famous Pearl Museum. The trip was only offered to veteran members, since it took about a year to plan.

An American team is always invited to the festival, and in recent years they’ve invited college teams to participate, Hankins said. Previous American participants include UCLA in 2015 and Texas Tech in 2016.

A favorite memory shared between all members of the team was getting to perform in the parade and watching performers from other countries.

“We kind of felt like we were at home when we got to see Mexico,” Kristen Hankins, director of spirit and traditions, said.

Other performances that they enjoyed watching were from Bulgaria, Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic and Egypt.

In addition to performing, the trip gave the team an opportunity to bond.

“Being the new director was very interesting for me because I got to know my girls even more than I already had,” Hankins said.

Even the seniors, who have been on the team for years, said that the trip still helped them to get to know each other even better.

“It was cool because we were already really close going into the trip, but just the differences and cultural experiences really brought us together and really affected our team work” St. Louis senior Amy Steinke said.

The girls said they were caught off guard by the culture shock, but love the memories that it resulted in when looking back on the trip.

“We definitely have a lot of good stories from this trip, a lot of culture shock things is what I think really bonded us,” Port Arthur senior Kayli Chiasson said. “Things like personal space, the language barrier was very interesting, I think we definitely underestimate how many people in China can speak English, so that was interesting.”

The team felt that it was a huge honor to be able to represent the United States, as they were the only team from the US there.

“It’s really a great honor to be there and to kind of be the face and the representation of not only Baylor and our beliefs and our programs but Texas and America as a whole, because when we were announced, we were announced as the team from the United States and the banner that we got and everything like that, we were the team from the US,” Hankins said. “It’s very humbling and honoring to be able to be in that position.”

Now that the songleaders have this foreign experience under their belt, they’re planning to continue representing Baylor internationally.

“We’ve already been invited to come to several other countries and perform and represent America, so we’re excited to hopefully continue to do things like this and really continue to get the mission of Baylor and the Baylor name not just nationally but internationally known,” Hankins said.

Chiasson wanted to let everyone know that the team is happy to be back in America and ready to be cheering on Baylor football.

The team will be showcasing one of their performances from Shanghai for the crowd at the Baylor vs. Oklahoma game Saturday.

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