Coming to Panama I was a little nervous about teaching because I knew very little Spanish. Once we got to the school and met the main teacher I became more open to the challenge. Then once we entered the classroom and started moving I realized that we did speak the same language, but instead of talking, it was movement. Although there were a few language bumps along the way I experienced a new kind of relationship on this trip with the kids that took class. With just a few words and mostly movement, we were able to create a dance performance in addition to getting to know each other.
I am also very happy I got to experience and be a part of the community of Chepo. Since this town is very different from where I come from I didn’t know what to expect but I’ve learned a lot. My personal exposure to this way of life and its people has broadened my perspective of the world in a very positive way.
One specific experience that I will never forget is the power of a smile. Due to the language barrier, I could only engage in very basic conversations with the dance students. This was difficult because there were so many questions I wanted to ask them. Although we couldn’t always use our words, I found that even just smiling at the students would make them smile back and we could bond in that moment. I’m grateful for these connections and hope these moments brightened the girls days as much as they brightened mine.