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Around the World in 80 Days: Northwestern student wins prestigious grant to travel spreading music education

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The past six months has been a time for Memphis native Hannah Whitehouse to prepare to travel the world as a scholar.
Back in January, the 21-year-old was selected as the winner of a $10,000 grant from the Circumnavigators’ Club of Chicago to study El Sistema in six countries across four continents.
“It feels good,” Whitehouse said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen but I applied anyway. The interview felt good and I found out the next day.”
This past November essays were submitted with the best three selected in December. The three finalist were invited in for an interview. The daughter of Thomas and Kim Whitehouse emerged as the winner.
“It’s allowing me to do research across four continents this summer,” Hannah noted. “You have to go to at least five countries across three continents. You can go up to seven and I’m going to six countries across four continents this summer.”
The granddaughter of Millington resident Dottie Shannon left for her 80-day trip around the world Sunday afternoon. From June 24 to Sept. 11, Hannah will be taking full advantage of her grant.
“My trip is actually 80 days,” she noted. “It was a happy accident.”
“Around the World in Eighty Days” is a well-known adventure novel by Friend writer Jules Verne that was published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a wager.
Whitehouse will circumnavigate starting in Europe going to England and Greece. The next stop will be Africa’s Kenya.
“I went to Kenya a couple of years ago for two months because I had an internship there doing development there,” Whitehouse recalled. “Then I went abroad again this time going to Peru. And the first time I personally was this past spring break to Israel.”
After this visit to Kenya, Whitehouse will be flying to Asia to work in India and the Philippines. Then the circumnavigation will conclude in Australia with a visit to New Zealand.
Whitehouse, a Social Policy and Music Education major, will be spreading the philosophy of  El Sistema.
Whitehouse explained El Sistema originated in 1970 as an orchestra program in Venezuela. El Sistema is used to effect social change through music for children with the fewest resources and the greatest need. Whitehouse interns with the group in Chicago, one of 62 in United States.
“I’m really passionate about research and the topic that I’m researching while I am there,” Whitehouse said. “And I love to travel. So this is the perfect grant for me, paying for everything and allowing me to work.”

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