Congo Dresses and Settling In

Day 2 of teaching was A-MAZE-ZING!
Just like what I thought, day 2 was when every thing started to fall into places. We made some changes that would make a lot more sense to the kids and ended up capturing the attention of all of them. Also, no one cried today (which is a huge accomplishment for us since comforting a three year-old in Spanish is much harder than we thought)! Hopefully by tomorrow we’ll be done with the whole choreography and breathe in breathe out for the New Year!
We were invited to Alicia’s home, who is a folklore dance teacher in Chepo. The Panamanian culture was illustrated beautifully in the way that she passionately talked about the pollera (the traditional formal dress of Panamanian women) and the roles of different folklore dance forms in their celebrations. The colorful practice dresses that she lent us made us feel like princesses, but they were no where near easy to handle. 10 minutes into the Congo dance with occasional chanting “Que viva Panama!” and “O-huey!”, we were sweating even more than the 3 hours of dance classes every morning with the kids. Walking across from Alicia’s front yard to join a music party from the neighbor’s house, we were blown away by the dynamic of the live band sound and learned just how rich Panamanian local culture is.
The heavy rain on the way back might have been an “onion” for some of us ( a term that we use specifically on this exchange to describe an unfortunate event or something need to be fixed), but after such a long and eventful day, was a refreshing cleanse to our spirit. And now, we are ready for Day 3!

– Trang Hoang, Dance Diplomat from Indiana University

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