Today, we got to take an aerial contemporary class, visit the ruins Panama Viejo (the Old City), and teach at Malambo Orphanage. My heart was overwhelmed with Joy and emotion.

 

My favorite part of the day was going to Malambo. Because this is my second Panama exchange, I entered the orphanage with much anticipation and a sense of familiarity. I was curious to see my friends from last year—later, happy to know some of them have moved on to better things, but sad to not see their bright faces and happy souls.

 

Before class, we got to visit the toddler house where we were immediately lathered in hugs from our new friends. I quickly connected with a sassy little girl who had the brightest smile and a playful personality. She was wearing pink from head to toe. We took turns putting lipstick and eyeshadow on each other with her pretend make up toys. Our interactions were so simple, yet so full of LOVE. The more we smiled and exchanged silly faces, the more she stole my heart. Such a little chica—but such a big and free heart.

 

While teaching the dance classes, I loved seeing how much the girls have grown. They were taller, more confident, and had a brighter eagerness to move with us. My heart was bursting—how amazing to know that our interactions with these kids are making lasting impacts, and not just to know that but to see it. Last year, I was determined to get a particularly shy little girl to dance with me. She would hide her face and smile sheepishly from the corner of the room. But today, she hugged me and boldly asked my name! She was participating the whole class—smiling and dancing with expression and JOY. I was so proud of her.

 

At the beginning of the week, we reflected on our intentions for the exchange. I so badly hope to make a lasting impact, spread Light, and above all else, to love them through dance. And after today…I’d say things are looking pretty bright. Our Panama Fellow, Adele, said, “let them blossom”. They sure are blossoming, and my heart sure is exploding.

 

Much love, Madelyn

- Madelyn Donovan, WMU Dance Diplomat