Inspiration is an amazing feeling in any form, but today I was lucky enough to receive it from an amazing bunch of kids. The kids at Aldea Orphanage in Colon, who we worked with this morning and afternoon, were glowing with happiness and watching them dance without a care in the world was a priviledge. Getting to join them for lunch was especially rewarding because we got an extra look into their everyday lives. We met the “mothers” of the houses and saw their rooms, their bunk-beds, and their pictures and of course compared it to the our lives as children. In there houses, the walls of the bedrooms were for the most part – bare, there wasn’t much room for privacy and individuality was hard to see within the uniformity of what each child had to his/her self. Of course the biggest difference were the parental roles and how they are portrayed to these kids. One of the highlights of the day was hearing the “mother” of the house I ate in say, “The boys live here and I live here. I am their mother and they are my sons.”
The light in these kids as they danced with us wouldn’t have portrayed anything “missing” in their lives and it was beautiful. The kids were beautiful, the employees of the orphanage were beauuuuuuutiful, and the dancing was breathtaking. We all left Aldea on a sort of high from being able to witness and be a part of something so special. We then traveled to Portobello, a gorgeous town on the Caribbean coast. We ate tree apples, and stood next to cannons on old stone walls and looked and the ocean, and again – danced. We filmed parts of the flashmob we’ve been planning and even danced with locals. Now, sitting in the hostel, I can reflect on the day and already know that the inspiration the kids gave me today will carry on long after I leave Panama, and I can only hope we’ve given them something similar 🙂
Today we went to Aldea S.O.S. in Panama City and we were able to work with an amazing group of kids. At first some of them were a bit shy but they were able to learn some fun choreography and capoeira!
One of the girls, Angie (she’s pictured with me above), started the afternoon sitting on the side watching the others dancing, but when I came over and spoke with her she was happy to dance with me on our own. Even though we didn’t follow the choreo we had fun making up some moves and playing around with our dancing. By the end of the afternoon, Angie jumped into the line to learn some hip-hop and it was great to see her come out of her shell and join the group. I hope that she is able to keep blossoming because she really opened up with us today. It’s so amazing to be a part of an organization that can provide a healthy environment to promote self-esteem and confidence in these children. That’s a part of Movement Exchange I will always love!
Although this is my third exchange, there have been new and fascinating things, and with each activity I learn more about connecting with others.
One of my favorite things that happened today at our first time teaching at Aldea SOS-PTY was being able to meet and watch the older girls dance. They are so beautiful, kind, and full of life. They jumped right into Meredith’s awesome choreography and smiled the whole time. It is so special to see such passion especially since typically kids take a bit to warm up to us. One of the girls (the girl in the black shirt on the left in the picture), took a break from dancing and we spoke off to the side.
She was so welcoming and shared some of her life with me. She shared her passion for drawing and appreciating the wildlife that she gets to see inside the orphanage, and although it gave her “pena” (embarrassment) she and some of the other girls had been choreographing some dances. I was so thrilled and immediately asked if they could share their dance with us.
There are many times when we teach the kids our dances and they perform them beautifully, but there are so few times when the girls create their own choreography and are able to show us. Towards the end of our stay they performed for us a dance they had made to the song “Descontrol” by Daddy Yankee. They were so enthralled with the dance and the chance to show us their creativity. It was wonderful to see and be able to tell them that we loved it and they did well.
Being able to have a one-on-one connection with the girl and see her and her friends perform for us was so fulfilling. Being able to give them that special moment to perform, be the center of attention and recognized is so unique and important. For that moment, it was their time to share with us what they were passionate about, just as we share with them and other orphanages we visit. I am so grateful that they felt comfortable enough with us to share it, and I hope that they took with them how proud we were.