Words from FSU’s Dance Diplomats after our Exchange to Panama:

“Movement Exchange is about so much more than sharing dance between cultures; it is about making a change no matter how minuscule or vast it may be.”

“Those kids will forever have a place in our hearts and will be our motivation to continue giving back in any way we can… If those kids can be thankful, happy and have high aspirations in the situation they are in, I can’t imagine what they could do if they had more resources and support.”

“I woke up this morning and just laid on the couch looking around and thinking about how I have this entire morning to myself and parents who love and support me. At first I felt guilty, and then I realized that I just shouldn’t take it for granted and that this privilege allows me the voice and ability to make a real difference to those not afforded the same opportunity.”

“I wish we could have spent so much more time there and given back so much more, but we have to remember that with what little time we were there we made a difference in those kids lives.”

A few days ago, myself and other dance diplomats from Florida State University and Western Michigan University returned from our Exchange to Panama. With a new perspective on dance and life in general, we all agreed that Movement Exchange truly has the ability to change lives. We were touched by the children’s eagerness to learn and their constant desire for affection and love. Although saddened by the knowledge that these kids do not have families who care for them and give them the attention they need and deserve, we were grateful for the fact that we were able to give them that happiness for at least a few hours. We, as dance diplomats, felt privileged to have this opportunity to work (and play!) with such amazing kids. After seeing the way these children live, it was harder and harder to leave the orphanages each day. The most we can hope for after this trip is that we left these kids with something they didn’t have before. Because of their smiling faces and extreme joy, we know that we have made a difference in their lives and that they won’t ever forget the experiences we had with them. We left Panama blessed that we were able to use our love of dance to inspire and spark happiness in these children.

I have had the privilege of attending this trip for the second year in a row and I can attest to the fact that Movement Exchange has and will continue to change lives. Dance has this amazing ability to evoke change and growth. It affects one’s character by requiring discipline, concentration and thoughtfulness. Without dance, I know I personally would not have the perseverance, confidence, or concentration that I have today. After seeing some of these kids after a year of having access to dance through Movement Exchange, I saw an amazing difference in their attitudes and confidence levels. Girls who had no desire to dance last year were now at the front of the class, dancing their hearts out and leading the rest of the group in the choreography. Others who barely spoke to me last year were dancing along side me and talking to me with what broken Spanish I have! This year we were also able to spend four days at Malambo Orphanage. Over the course of the four days, I saw an increased confidence in themselves and their bodies and an increased appreciation for dance and ballet. One girl who had never danced before amazed me. She was extremely overwhelmed the first day and seemed to be struggling in the back corner. She practiced every day and by the last day, she knew the choreography better than anyone else in the room. I was extremely inspired to see her fall in love with dance in just four days. Dance has the power to spark this perseverance that I believe she and the other children will be able to transfer to other aspects of their lives.

Although we can’t give the kids the daily affection they deserve, I know that by spreading the joy of dance, we are helping them increase their self confidence and perseverance, which betters their futures and will be a part of their lives forever. The power of dance is immense and I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to use dance to inspire others in various aspects of their lives. As the semester end, I think it’s important to remember that because of dance, we have touched someone in our lives. Whether it was simply a family member at a recent performance, a child in Panama, or a student at a University, dance has put a smile on someone’s face; and that’s simply the beauty of Movement Exchange’s mission. Through dance, we can add that extra burst of happiness to someone’s life.

~Move To Change~

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