A sleek bullet train pulled into a city in northern Japan recently with 15 Los Angeles teenagers aboard. They looked like typical school kids everywhere, in the uniform of T-shirts, hoodies, jeans and sneakers. The city likewise appeared unremarkable, although the snow-capped mountains in the distance were pretty.
But this was the city of Fukushima. And the students were members of YOLA, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Youth Orchestra L.A. patterned after Venezuela's El Sistema music education program.