I am so elated that my first experience with Movement Exchange was my participation in their Panama Exchange in June of 2018. Traveling abroad showed me that dance is a beautiful, diverse, and universal language that has the amazing ability to define cultures, teach life lessons, and connect people across the globe–even if the dancers don’t speak the same language! If you’re still on the fence about participating in an exchange, I’ve listed five reasons why international dance exchanges are perfect for any person looking for an opportunity to volunteer and travel!
1. Share your love for dance/movement—Globally!
If dance is your passion, an exchange is the perfect way to share that passion with others around the world! Whether you’re teaching pas de bourres to young children or learning traditional folk dances alongside University students, everyone benefits from the exchange of movement!
2. Meet new people!! Build awesome relationships!!
While in Panama, I met so many beautiful dancers! During my exchange, there were two universities that participated; The University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was great to meet other dancers from another Movement Exchange chapter. We had so much fun getting to know each other, and sharing our experiences from our different dance programs. The dance majors at the University of Panama were talented, and very kind! Not only did we get to take class with them, but we were also invited to see some of them compete at a local dance competition! Thanks to social media, it’s easy to keep up with all of the awesome people I met while in Panama!
3. Experience new, beautiful cultures!
Our exchange group had the opportunity to take a traditional Panamanian folk dance class, and a beginner breakdancing class! We toured a museum about the Panama Canal, and learned a lot of Panamanian History. The food in Panama was to die for, and we always had the opportunity to practice our spanish every day!
4. Gain a new perspective!
Being in a different country changed the way I viewed myself as an American. For the first time, I was the foreigner. I didn’t speak the same language as most of the people around me. At first, it was weird and a little scary. But I had awesome exchange leaders and friends to help me. Learning about Panamanian culture through a textbook is one thing, but being immersed in Panamanian culture was such a fun and educational experience!
5. Have FUN!!
On an exchange, you take all the awesome sightseeing and fun activities that come with tourism, and combine it with the rewarding experience that comes from volunteering! Not only did my exchange group have the opportunity to share dance and movement with some amazing students, but we got to experience Panama’s beautiful beaches, botanical gardens, and amazing cuisine!
Whether you participate in an exchange in Panama City, Panama or Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, you are going to love the country and its culture so much, it will be extremely hard to say goodbye.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up and move to change!!
– Kaitlyn Jones, Dance Diplomat from UT-Austin