Music brings together a unique and diverse assortment of cultures, ethnicities, races, and denominations, connecting them to an interesting and rich experience. It has been through this encounter that 18-year-old Aydin Quach has developed his passion for music, history, and giving back to society.

As one of six 2018 NUFSICISUM Award winners, Aydin has been recognized for his exceptional youth leadership skills in his school and community at Vancouver Technical Secondary School. He believes that through music we can learn about each other and find new ways to communicate as well as strengthen our sense of belonging, no matter our age.

Aydin grew up in a household with familiar Chinese songs as well as warm voices such as Louis Armstrong on repeat. It’s when he transitioned from elementary to secondary school that he found music classes such as band, orchestra, and choir through which he was able to develop his musical passion and social circles. Aydin describes this period as a challenging one since there is no middle school in British Columbia, and the jump from elementary school to secondary school can feel intimidating for a 12-year-old.

Thankfully, Aydin was encouraged to join music classes as a way to overcome his shyness and develop friendships with those who also had a shared passion for music. Inspired, Aydin helped to develop a peer mentorship program with the help of his music teacher, Amanda Kilburn, for students in grades six and seven to try out music lessons for free and bridge the gap for incoming students from feeder schools. Aydin recognized the help of older students he had received during his transition and wanted to give back.

A favorite quote of Aydin’s is from music educator Dr. David Eccles: “Music is the vehicle in which we learn all life.” Aydin elaborates, “Many of my colleagues might not continue in music, but being in music throughout high school exposes them to a different level of expression and connectedness that you don’t experience otherwise. Choir, band, and orchestra are some of the biggest sports teams on earth and are full of experiences and opportunities for developing communication, social skills, interview skills, hand eye coordination, self care, and mindfulness. It is more than just notes on a page.” Aydin encourages others to get involved by taking small steps at first, like showing up to a choir practice or attending a music student council meeting, and then to allow these experiences to grow into something amazing.

Aydin began his first year at the University of British Columbia last fall as a history major, having been inspired by research on musical composers, the society in which they lived, and how this society continued to develop throughout time and impact the present. He is looking forward to this next phase in his journey and also has plans to stay involved with his musical community.