On one of our first nights here in Panama, I had said that one of my intentions for the week was to step outside of my comfort zone. While traveling to another country where I barely speak the language and doing so completely alone as the only one from UD was already way outside of my comfort zone, I knew that I wanted to break out of my shell as a dancer, dance teacher, and human being as much as possible while on this exchange. As I reflect on the past few days here, especially today, I feel as though I have done just that. Staying in Chepo where our hostel was essentially a cabin in the woods was certainly nothing like I’ve ever done before. Teaching dance in a school to large classes where the students spoke little to no English was something very different for me, and while I was nervous and overwhelmed the first day, by today I was confident, and super excited to perform with our students for the community (but super sad to leave them afterwards). Additionally, after returning to the city today, we took two dance classes- Dancehall and Krump- both styles I had never done before, and while I was nervous going into them, I ended up loving both of them. Dancehall was super fun and I loved the combo we learned, and Krump was awesome as our teacher not only explained the history and culture of the genre, but also made us dance one by one in the middle of a circle at the end of class, using what we had just learned.
While stepping out of my comfort zone was just one of my personal goals for the week, this trip is not just about me, and this idea can be applied to everyone- including the kids we taught in Chepo. For example, most of the children at Santa Isabel had never danced before, and while many of them were nervous at the beginning of the week, by today they were standing in the front of class, eager to dance and show us how much they have practiced and improved. These kids took both the metaphorical and literal leap by trying something new and outside of what they normally do. I truly believe that in order to keep growing and become our best possible selves, we must challenge ourselves to try new things and step – or dance – out of our comfort zones.
– Rachel, University of Delaware Dance Diplomat