It has been such a full day and I am in EXHAUSTED. (In a good way 😉 So exhausted that I am very surprised that I am still blogging, but I would love it if I would be forgiven of any typos or grammar errors. Gracias.
Well, we had a late start today (which we were all very grateful for) and we were at our first destination, The University of Panama by 10:30am. The girls here from Arizona State University (Elena, Sarah, & Riley) led a wonderful class of dancers from both Panama and Movement Exchange. And what a beautiful exchange it was. Everyone was so eager to learn and try and try again. No one was afraid to get outside of their comfort zone and no one was afraid of failure, which is refreshing to see. It was fun to see things that are universal in the dance world. During one of the progressions that we were doing across the floor, Riley said “okay now let’s do it on the left,” and everyone, dancers from both Panama and Move-Ex, burst into laughter at the difficulty of doing ANYTHING on the left side.
After class we headed to lunch in the cafeteria where we had some authentic Panamanian food and some even more authentic conversation and then it was off to drop everyone off at their various orphanages that they would be working. This year Move-Ex is working with three different foundations, so all of the volunteers split up each day and work with the same foundation all week to prepare for a huge performance with all of the groups on Friday. My girls from Azusa Pacific and I will be working at the Malambo Orphanage with a group of 12 girls from ages 5-17. This is the same orphanage that I worked in three years ago, so you can imagine how anxious and excited I was on the drive over. Just for a little background info…Malambo is an orphanage that keeps boys and girls with ages ranging from infancy all the way to age 18. These kids vary from children with HIV, children whose parents can no longer afford to take care of them, and many other at-risk youth. I am the most fluent in Spanish out of everyone working at the Malambo orphanage (and I don’t speak Spanish, like at all…hahaha) so we knew that we might have a few challenges with the language barrier.
Upon arrival, with butterflies eating away at arroz con pollo in my tummy, we took a self-led tour of Malambo and Juliet and I both experienced a peaceful feeling of “its been to long,” while the other girls were blown away and the beautiful facilities. We at the last minute changed our song to The Cheetah Girls “Strut,” and later found out that it was a good decision. The chicas are all about it. We sat in a circle, and speaking Spanish we introduced ourselves saying our name and age, and those sweet little girls all introduced themselves in the little English that they knew. We did a warm up to some Spanish version of Queen-B, and then played musical chairs which really got them going. Whoever got out did not pout or whine, but they simply just joined the dance party going on the other side of the room.
I SPOKE SO MUCH SPANISH TODAY.
After we got them nice and warm be split them up into groups and began choreography and my oh my are they some little hard-working ballerinas. For the last ten minutes, we just played. And it was fun. Not like OMG scrolling on tumblr is so fun, or like wow let’s go shoe shopping this weekend fun, but like FUN. Pure, innocent, simple, bruise-forming-FUN. At one point I was a jungle gym. I named one little girl “mi chiquita adhesivo,” which basically means my little sticker because she would not let me go.
During this time I also got to talk to Monica who was 14 when I met her and is now a beautiful and bright 17 year old. She was definitely a highlight of my day. She asked about all the volunteers from three years ago and asked what they were doing in life and then asked me to bring a copy of the song that we danced to three years ago, and I agreed. After muchas muchas besitos we were on our way back to the Hostel. We had dinner in a beautiful gourmet pasta restaurant and then hurried home to get dressed for a surprise that Anna and Carina had planned for us. We got all dressed up and then Supresa! Dancing with the Stars Panama! And it was SO much fun.
After listening to each other’s apples and onions of the day we all split up and got ready for bed and what not. I’m so excited for tomorrow! Brittany, Alyssa, Madison, and I will be leading class at the University of Panama!
Inside jokes of the day:
I’m learning a lot, living in the moment, and laughing ‘til it hurts.
(Sorry there are no pictures today…it’s a process that is too long when I have to be up in 5 hours. )