In September of 2013, I met Mei-Ling Murray, fellow Program Director for the India program; we took an Afro-Brazilian dance class, and at the end, not knowingly, our 2 hour conversation turned into a commitment and vision of taking dance education to India. 2014 became a year of courage, trust and resiliency. As Movement Exchange embarked on an Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds for this expansion, we were reminded of true grace. Friends, family and coworkers supported, believed, and felt our vision. When we started dreaming, we set forth on a list of core values that was to be our backbone to this exchange.
Exposure, cultural immersion, empathy, understanding, connection, dialogue, sharing, sustainability, education, creative expression, language, community, outreach, performance, beauty, color, embrace, generosity, enthusiasm
As our last participant left at 12 AM on Jan 18, Sarah Wiltgen from Purdue University, I turned to Mei-Ling and no words came out, though our hearts knew. We felt a proud sense of love and accomplishment led not by us, but the spirit of community we served; the commitment and passion from our diplomats, and the unrelenting support for each other.
Our time in India began and ended in a feat unlike anything else. We couldn’t be more blessed to have partnered with organizations, dance educators, and individuals committed to empowering the human condition through dance. Their hearts and our hearts instilled with these values day after day.
The beginning of each day started with movement, setting themes through a curriculum discussion spanning from inter-cultural communication, child development, teaching children with disabilities, to community dance; and, then our work began. Day after day, our participants breathed and invoked attention, consideration, empathy and love to the community we served. At the end of every night, reflection was met with honesty, curiosity, dignity, gentleness, and gratitude.
As I think back to the summation of moments throughout this trip, all together we facilitated a precious, sacred exchange that tugged at the heart strings, and cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples to come.
How to thank our very special diplomats: Kim, Hannah, Ami, Sarah, Lili, Nikeeta, Talia and Anna for your trust, excitement, courage, and love during this first exchange!