Apples and Onions

Upon arriving in Panama, I was introduced to the concept of “apples and onions.” After each day of the exchange, we will be sharing with the group something good that happened during the day, our “apple” and something that maybe did not go so well, our “onion.”
After my first morning of teaching today, I was feeling a little bit of the onion side of things. Meeting the students for the first time was awesome and exciting, but left me extremely overwhelmed and very tired.
We took a visit to the Embará indigenous community in the afternoon, however, and I left feeling re-energized. I loved hearing about their culture and was amazed how willing they were to share with us. Their story about how discrimination and the government are so slowly chipping away their traditions was heartbreaking. I felt so much respect for how they hold on to their culture. They taught us how to dance like them and painted us with designs traditional to the Embará people.
My favorite part, however, was talking to some of the kids. They were so inquisitive and so friendly. They didn’t mind talking slower for me so that I could understand them and they let me struggle through what I wanted to say in Spanish. Kids are just so honest, it is hilarious. They were mimicking the way I danced at one point and the way I said things. I could only laugh because because they weren’t making fun, just being honest. I learned all about them and their families. They wanted to dance with me, too. I had the best time.
After that excursion, I am ready for tomorrow and another day of teaching and getting to know the students even better. Being introduced to another dance culture has me even more ready to share my own.

– Maeve Tom, Dance Diplomat from University of Cincinnati

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