Stranded choir gets tickets to help get home

Stranded choir heading home

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The stranded Gema Chandra Cendrawaih University Choir from Indonesia is finally headed home. The group was stranded in Cincinnati after finding themselves without the money they needed to make it to San Francisco where their flight home takes off.

The group did not arrive to the World Choir Games until closing ceremonies after being held up in Indonesia by airport delays and ticketing issues. They said they needed to perform in Cincinnati to ensure their government would still pay for their trip.

When Cincinnati stepped up to the plate to host the World Choir Games, the city knew it would be welcoming guests from around the world. As any good host knows though, the job isn't done when the party is over. Instead, it is only time to rest when all of the guests have made it safely home.

On Tuesday, the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau fronted the money the group needed to pay for a Greyhound bus to take them to California.

A spokeswoman for the bureau says they considered which would be the best transportation option to get the group to California.

"Is it by plane, train, automobile?  What is the easiest way to get them?" Julie Calvert said of their debate. "The thing we came up with from a cost standpoint and then just from a timing standpoint was to get them on Greyhound and get them on their way today."

Choir member Ralf Rapasi was relieved knowing a ride was ready and waiting to take the group to California where their flight takes off.

"He's very happy… knowing that he's able to go to San Francisco, have that transportation, and get back to Indonesia," translator Anastasia Ross said.

It was with mixed emotions, however, that they said goodbye.

"I'm so fully happy," Ralf Rapasi said.

"He's just happy about the acceptance from the community and they're very touched," Ross translated.

Through tears, the group sang one final song before boarding the bus.

"[Rapasi is] also sad that he has to leave this soon," Ross said.

The bus trip ahead is expected to take more than two days, but as with every hurdle they have had to overcome they are choosing looking at this one as an opportunity.

"It's OK I think because this is our first time in America and I think it's OK so we can look around the America," choir member Tiur offered before boarding the bus.

Before leaving, the group was given honorary metals from the organizers of the World Choir Games.

Calvert says the Indonesian government has committed to reimbursing the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the $10,000 spent to get the choir to California. She says several other groups helped to provide food and transportation while they were in town.

Calvert says the group embodies the spirit of the games through their flexibility, determination and love of song.

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