The mosquito bites have surfaced, the bonds have grown stronger, and the Panamanian heat is no longer acknowledged. Yep, it’s day three!
Today started with a beautiful hike to the top of Ancon hill, where we saw frogs and toucans while we walked through the rain. We then headed to take class/ teach class to the students of the University of Panama. Shirine and Annika lead a wonderful class, and the university students seemed to really enjoy themselves! After class, we had a buffet style lunch, followed by a trip to the Panama Canal.
The canal was very impressive, and has a very rich history behind its construction. Its not exactly disneyland, but it is truly a feat in engineering.
The night ended with dancing, dinner, and a reflection. I love hearing everyone’s thoughts on the day. Everyone experiences Panama differently, and yet we all share a common love for this vibrant country.
It’s the end of day two here in Panama! Today kicked off with a great breakfast and some coffee to wake up the brain. After that we went and took an amazing Afro class. Our wonderful teacher taught us a traditional afro dance, and whipped our butts into shape. I don’t think I have ever been so sweaty and gross in my life, but it really didn’t matter; I haven’t felt that much joy in my dancing for some time now, and I truly felt all my insecurities melt away with the heat. My heart is so full right now! After that amazing class, we came back for lunch, and were given some time to rest and recuperate. Then it was off to Malambo!
Malambo Orphanage was an incredible experience. We were all able to teach and guide the kids through choreography and movement. We also got to spend time with them and play some games. For the last hour I was able to teach a jazz combination to the older girls, and I absolutely loved seeing the enjoyment on their faces!
My personal research for this trip, is to discover why dance and the power of movement is important for young girls. Today I was able to interview one of the teenagers, and she told me that she liked dancing and being a girl because she felt glamorous. I loved the idea of gaining self-confidence through dance, and I am very interested in hearing from the other girls as the week progresses.
After Malambo, we all came back to the hostel for reflection and a shower. We then headed to dinner, and topped the night off with a visit to therooftop bar. The food was great and the conversations were even better. It is amazing to me how you start to bond with a group of like-minded people so quickly. I feel absolutely blessed to be surrounded with these beautiful souls!
And now I get to fall asleep to the night sky of Panama, which is sparked with the occasional appearance of lightning.
UCI has officially arrived in Panama! After a rough red eye and a long walk around the city (until our hostel was ready), we are finally rested and settled in. The UCI crew, or the Panamaniacs as we call ourselves, are so ready to rock n roll! We will be spending most of our time teaching at Malambo, which none of us have been to, so it will be a new and exciting experience for all of us! Some of us went on the exchange last summer and were worried about creating expectations, but we have quickly learned that this trip will have its own identity.
Because this is my second time around, I thought I knew what to expect and how the trip was going to go, but I have already been proved wrong. It feels like I never left, and yet everything seems a little different. New buildings have gone up and old ones have been torn down. Not to mention that our itinerary is vastly different. It goes to show that no two experiences are alike, and I am so grateful that’s the case. This exchange will definitely take on its own form, and I am so excited to learn and grow from this experience! This trip changed my life last year, and I knew that I had to go back the moment I came home.