Raging Red readies for China

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Every university recruits international students, and at Dixie State University, one of the ways to do that is through song and dance.

For the third time in six years, the vocal and dance performance group Raging Red will be traveling to China May 17-28 to perform at several venues in front of thousands of people, including at the Great Wall of China. 

Raging Red director Merrilee Webb said the trip is not a vacation but instead a recruiting tool to bring international students to Dixie State University.

“We do have an awesome time while we’re there, but we go to recruit,” Webb said.  “We’ve seen huge changes in the international office. It’s growing — not just because of us — but the Chinese contingency is getting bigger and bigger.”

President Stephen Nadauld is a big supporter of Raging Red, and the group performed April 17 in honor of him and his wife. Students, their families and community members gathered at the event. Nadauld opened the show by speaking about the start of Raging Red five years ago and when he went with the group on the first trip to China with his wife.

“[Raging Red] is such a fabulous force for recruiting,” Nadauld said. “Whenever we send them to China, we get a lot more international students who want to come over here to school.”

About 30 members of the performance group are going on the trip. Dean of students Del Beatty, who led Raging Red in a performance of the Dixie Medley at the tribute performance, said not all of the members are able to go because they have to pay $1,360 each out of their own pockets.

Nadauld said the performers fundraised as a group by holding a workshop for the community in which Webb and the members of Raging Red donated their time to work with youth singers and dancers.

Beatty said expenses for the trip are about $3,500 per person before fundraising. Paul Morris, the vice president of student services, said administration officials approved to help with the trip’s cost by providing Raging Red members with just under one-third of the cost, or about $800 per attending student.

“This is easily reimbursed because if two Chinese kids come for the year, the trip is reimbursed for what [was] offered [by the school],” Webb said.

Morris said DSU has built good connections and relationships with contacts in China, and the members of Raging Red are great ambassadors for that cause.

Beatty said there are about 20-30 international students at DSU because of Raging Red.

“International fees are much higher, but they’re still much less expensive than a Chinese family sending their child to a Chinese college,” Webb said. “St. George is a safe place … They feel comfortable sending their child here.”

The group is returning to China to perform at high schools and colleges in various cities. The cultural connections and exchanges with schools in China will be a great learning experience and not a “touristy” trip, Webb said.

Raging Red member Derek Brazeau, a senior music major from Washington, said he is excited to be immersed in the culture.

“I personally speak Chinese,” Brazeau said. “I served [an LDS] mission in Toronto, Canada, and with that I learned Chinese … They did so much for me, so I just want to give back to them through my art.”

Nadauld said he thinks the trip abroad will be successful.

“There’s not a language barrier anymore,” Nadauld said. “Music is a universal language.”

The Raging Red performers have been preparing all semester with daily rehearsals, and they will rehearse again for a full week before leaving to China.

“There’s just so much unity in this group,” said Raging Red member Kimberly Johnson, a freshman health science major from Cottonwood Heights. “[It is] the most compassionate and loving group of people I’ve ever worked with in my life.”