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Brownsville Mayor Among Well-wishers at Mariachi Ocelotetlán Airport Sendoff  
BROWNSVILLE, TEXASMAY 13, 2013 – After a short bon voyage program and lots of hugs and kisses from friends and family, members of Mariachi Ocelotetlán lined up at the security gate at Brownsville / South Padre Island International Airport to begin their journey to St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, May 13. 
The mariachi ensemble of The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College departed today on its long-anticipated trip to perform at Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia in St. Petersburg. 
Dr. Javier Martinez, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, who began a short bon voyage program in the airport lobby, spoke of the hard work the students have put forth to raise funds for the trip.  
“They raised about $15,000 by playing at city events, Fiesta Mexicana, Winter Visitors mini concert, their fall and spring concerts, and weddings and quinceañeras,” Martinez said.  
Martinez introduced Antonio Briseño, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Mariachi Studies, who will accompany the group of 12 students on their trip. He also introduced Dr. Lucy Willis, Professor of Modern Languages, and Noemi Gonzalez, who will accompany the group as volunteer chaperones. 
Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez was on hand to wish the students a good trip. 
“Travel is educational; you will learn so much, and this will be an experience that you will treasure forever,” Martinez said. 
Martinez said he knew the students would be visiting The Hermitage State Museum, formerly the palace of Catherine the Great, a historical figure that he had studied with a particular interest. His own son a Jesuit priest, Martinez said he is partial to Empress Catherine for all the good she did for Russia and in particular for saving the Jesuits when they were being persecuted. 
He thanked everyone for coming out to cheer on the ensemble, mentioning Brownsville residents Katherine and Bill Reed, longtime supporters of the Department of Music, who were in attendance at the airport. Martinez also reminded the students that they were carrying a responsibility with them – to be good ambassadors of Brownsville. 
Trumpet player Jose Molina, a music education major from Brownsville, was joined by his mother, grandmother, two aunts and a cousin at the airport. 
“Jose is the first one of our family to travel out of the country,” said Aunt Blanca Gomez. Mother Rebecca Molina told the story of having to drive with her son to El Paso for an expedited passport.
“It was 12 hours over and 12 hours back,” Molina said. “In 36 hours I was back home with a new passport. That was cutting it a little close.” 
Trumpet player and art education major Wendy Reyna said good bye to her father, Jose Reyna of Brownsville. 
“I am very happy that my daughter is going to Russia,” Reyna said in Spanish. “This will be a wonderful experience to visit another country and share mariachi music. It is appreciated in so many places around the world; I think the Russians will like it.” 
Violinist and music education major Natalie Olivares had her mother, grandmother and two brothers on hand to say goodbye. Natalie’s mother and grandmother were especially helpful in raising Natalie’s pocket money by baking cookies and other goodies that her mom would sell at work. 
Violinist and music education major Leo Garza spoke for the group, saying they were all looking forward to sharing mariachi music and their Hispanic culture with those they would be meeting at the host university. 
The short bon voyage program was concluded by Fr. Armand Mathew, OMI, who asked in his prayer for a safe and peaceful journey that would be a life-giving experience for all in the group. 
To follow the Mariachi Ocelotetlán in St. Petersburg, Russia, go to UTB Mariachi Ocelotetlán on Facebook.


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