Panama. Where to begin. Well for starters, I spent seven days and eight nights in 90 degree weather with limited meal choices and language barriers that almost made communication nonexistent. On the other hand, I spent seven days and eight nights with some of my closest friends teaching a curriculum of dance to enhance community and self-expression while learning and thriving in a brand culture. If you ask me, I just experienced the most diverse week of my life.
Teaching and learning alongside my peers has enhanced my global awareness of the world and its differences in many ways. For starters, we located ourselves in a rural area called Chepo surrounded by Panamanian culture. Visiting local hangouts and eateries, purchasing the delicious Eskimo Pies at the local store, learning how to use bathroom facilities, and participating in the night life at the discoteca, we engulfed ourselves in their world and lived alongside their customs.
Appreciating more about the life happening around us, we taught at a local school for four days, the fifth cultivating a show for all of the student dancers to participate and show off what they had learned. Watching the class numbers grow over the four days ensured the fact that our presence was not only accepted by the community, but largely enforced by the students. We watched how they brought their friends and siblings to share in the exploration of dance and show off their skills at the final showing. No words can express the happiness shared that day of the final show, except for Exchange. We brought them dance, and they exchanged it for appreciation and willingness to try something new. Our efforts for a dance curriculum will not stop after those five days, but will continue to bring in other artists and teachers to share the knowledge of dance with the Chepo community.