Allyson Today was our first full day in Panama and it was packed! An hour bus ride to Colón gave us the chance to soak in more of the Panamanian landscape. Stretches of green dotted with brightly colored houses would suddenly open up into ocean and it was absolutely breathtaking. One highlight from the morning was the opportunity to share dance with Jairo, the pasa pasa instructor at Escuelita del Ritmo–after the official “class” we went back and forth teaching our favorite steps. In the afternoon, we jumped in to teaching at Aldea S.O.S. Getting muddy, sweaty, and wet in the rain as we danced outside with the kids, calling out cues in my jumbled Spanish faster than my tongue could keep up, I felt like I was starting to get at the essence of this trip.

Michelle Today the long bus rides were one of my favorite things. We saw what I thought was the heart of Panama in landscapes, colors, and the unique houses and buildings. Many of us did fall asleep on the long bus ride. When we arrived we went to take a pasa pasa class with Jairo first and it felt so at home. He was really welcoming and social in a way that made us all feel almost like we knew him forever. We taught him movement and he taught us movement and it was literally movement exchange. After that we went to Aldea and danced with so many kids. There was a language barrier for me but the kids were accepting and they tried everything. We danced in the rain with the kids and it felt good to get dirty outside and just not care about anything with dance. I will miss the kids because we will not be returning to Aldea but it was a beautiful start to the rest of the week despite some challenges and ups and downs. 

Chareka: Today was AMAZING! We had the opportunity to take a pass pasa class, I must admit that this was the perfect class to start the week off. Jairo, was a fantastic teacher and his energy was contagious. I enjoyed the exchanged that happen between us and him. We were able to teach him some movements as well as learn his style of movement. After we took class we went to an orphanage called Aldea and danced with the children. Words can not describe the joy and excitement I had for these children. Although it rained majority of the day I am so glad we did not let allow the rain to stop us from having a good time. In fact the rain motivated us to dance with even more passion. The children at the orphanage were beautiful, talented, and precious. There was no greater feeling than being with those kids and witnessing the smile on their faces. My desire is to use dance as a tool of empowerment and I can definitely say that was accomplished today. I look forward to the rest of the week!

Ashley: Today was so unbelievable! Being from Arizona I do not often get to see greenery and and water so being in this environment brought me to a place of awe. The pasa pasa class with Jairo was part of the day the reminded me to always approach things as a student as well and have that thirst to always do more. The climax of the day was entering Aldea and being with the children! I’m finding myself really loving the hospitality of the people here, their warmth allows for me to open up and soak up the experience. The kids were so beautiful in the way that they approached all the movement. I just feel so blessed to interact with people that have open hearts willing to express through dance! I know the rest of the week will bring more and more joy into my life. 

Elaina: I am falling more in love with Panama everyday. The smiles of the children were so heart warming. Although there was a language barrier, I felt really welcomed  and had a great time teaching. I think that best part of today was seeing how excited the children were to dance. I loved how eager they were to learn and I was blown away by how great they danced. The pasa pasa class with Jairo was so much fun! I was able to just let go of everything and just indulge myself in having fun with dance. It is crazy to think that we have only taught for one day and only taken one class and I have already learned so much. I am so grateful to be here. This is really such an amazing experience and I am so blessed to be surrounded by encouraging people. Also, I hope to impress my Nana when I return with my knowledge of spanish!:)

Molly: Today was full of dancing for the love of dance! Starting with Jairo’s Pasa Pasa class. I loved learning this form together and seeing how everyone navigated the new moves. He put each of us on the spot to dance in the center of our circle and teach at the front of the class; this forced each of us to let go and just dance. Dancing with the kids at Aldea was inspiring in the same sense as well. They just went for the movement and broke through any hesitancy they had with it. Also, we danced in the rain which was so refreshing on so many levels. We had a somewhat lengthy road trip to and from these locations as well. Watching the scenery change from one part of the country to the other was breathtaking. The sights, sounds, and culture are in such contrast to what my daily life looks like, and it is just what I needed. Taking time away from the busy culture I’ve come accustom to and just taking the time to be present my others and myself certainly puts life back into perspective. 

Today for all of us was : Amazing, freeing, cleansing, courage, sharing, and eye-opening.

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