This past Spring Break I had the opportunity to travel internationally with several SMU dance majors (and one engineer!). The location was Panama and what brought us there was dance. We worked with a group called Movement Exchange that has developed partnerships with orphanages in Panama, Brazil and the States. Over the course of a week, we taught dance classes to underserved kids in orphanages, providing them an avenue for expression, building self-confidence, developing community, and having fun. While there we taught other dancers at the University of Panama, tried some of the local food, and fumbled our way through the Spanish language. Luckily we picked up the words baño, numbers 1-10 and bailar right away. Among the things I learned in Panama, here are some of my highlights.
5 of the many things I learned in Panama:
1- People are always willing and able to help
2- Children are energetic balls of fun, talent, patience and stamina
3- Zanahoria means carrot… and nananja (orange) zanahoria juice is very interesting
4- Panamanian people are extremely passionate and spiritual. On October 21, Catholics thousands make a pilgrimage to Iglesia de San Felipe in Portobelo to witness Christo Negro (the Black Christ)
5- Power in numbers is very, VERY real people- with 9 students and a combined total of 8 years of high school Spanish (and about 17 years of French) the Movement Exchange students from SMU and FSU have combined forces and made a great curriculum for the kids.