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  • Writer's pictureLindsey St Onge


Allyson: The most rewarding part of today for me was teaching classes at the Danilo Perez Foundation, an after school music program for at-risk youth. Molly and I taught a rhythm and movement class and the kids were so receptive. I was blown away by the quality of the Danilo Perez Foundation--look it up if you want to be inspired. Although Movement Exchange focuses on dance, Danilo Perez reminded that quality arts education transforms lives, period--no matter the form of expression.  

Molly: I'm not sure where to start with today's extremely full day because it was all so positive. It's amazing to bounce between all these different experiences and roles within one day. We were students taking an aerial class, I was a student while fellow dance diplomats taught, I was a tourist at the Panama Canal, I was a teacher and assistant at the Danilo Perez Foundation, and then I got to be one of the girls on a shopping spree at the largest mall in Panama. This pattern isn't unlike my life in the states, but there's been a vulnerability that exists within the group that makes my semi-ordinary pattern extraordinary. Everyday here has been rich and I plan to keep that pattern going once I return to the U.S. 

Chareka: Today was FANTASTIC! Words can not describe the excitement that I felt from today! Today was full of new experiences that challenged me as an artist and individual. First, we took an aerial class that was extremely difficult followed by an Urban class taught by Eliana, Michelle, and I at the University of Panama. This class was so enriching and inspiring. It was amazing to see how much the students opened up as the class progressed. I must admit I was impressed by the level of talent present in the classroom. The students were energized and extremely confident. By the end of the class all of the students were free-styling in the cypher (circle). I will never forget this moment as I witnessed each student transform throughout class. It's amazing to see the power of dance. Lastly, teaching at Danilo Perez Foundation was rewarding. Seeing the smiles on the children faces was all that I could ask for. The children were excited and engaged throughout the entire class. I can not wait to see what the next three days has to offer. 

Michelle: Today was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. I'm usually not this positive but today I definitely am. The aerial class in the morning was so refreshing and eye opening. I've never done aerial before and I loved it so much that I will probably do more of it back in Arizona. We then headed over to the University of Panama again and it was my turn to teach. Elaina, Chareka, and I taught an urban class of mostly house, breaking, and waacking. I was really nervous at first because I've never taught a university level class and my spanish is not very good at all but they were so receptive and incredibly warm. They made me feel comfortable like we've been dancing together for months. I definitely feel like I have grown from the short time that I was in that room with the students. I also tried plantains for the first time in the university cafeteria! After that we went to Panama Canal which was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. When I was looking out from the museum it looked like it had to be a painting. It was so vast and beautiful and I feel lucky that I saw it. We then went to the Danillo Perez Foundation where the students had incredible rhythm and discipline. They were some of the most talented kids I have ever worked with and they picked up everything so well. We ended the day with some shawarma that reminded me of home. This day was packed but the best way of describing my feelings at this moment are that I ended a long journey and I can finally have a sigh of relief like the first bite of warm brownies. Today was that kind of delicious. 

Elaina: Today was amazing! The aerial class we took in the morning was so much fun!  Although I was unable to complete any of the moves, I had a blast enjoying the other dancer's progress. It was such a great atmosphere in the class and everyone was encouraging each other.  After that, we went to teach a class at the university. Michelle, Chareka, and I taught an Urban class and it was so fun! The students there are so passionate and hungry for dance that it truly made this class so uplifting and comforting. At the Danilo Perez Foundation, the kids had so much fun in the classes. It was such a great feeling to be teaching, and all of the students were really enjoying the experience and had giant smiles on their face. Each day has had so many incredible memories, and I am grateful for every person who has made this possible. Also I am so grateful for our lovely leaders; Nisha, Mei-Ling, and Tinna have  inspired me so much with their dedication and constant encouragement. I had a great time today, and an exciting evening talking with our group and laughing together. I cannot wait until tomorrow. :)

Today was inspiring, extrodinary, fantastic, positive and up-lifting. We are all so grateful for this journey.

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