Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The light before the...?

For all my light-hearted blog entries about “no urinating” signs and landing on water, there’s some serious stuff going on here: a strike at the university, a hunger strike at the bank, women begging on the streets, children living with abuse. Though I’m not sure I’ll ever get to know the strikers or the women, or the myriad other groups longing and working for change, I will get to know the children, at least some of them.

Tomorrow, I start work at two children’s homes: Pedacito del Cielo (a home for children up to age five) and Corazón del Pastor (a home for girls ages 5-18). Both homes take in abused, abandoned, and orphaned children (as well as children whose parents, for one reason or another, can’t support them for a time) and have a special interest in helping children with HIV/AIDS. For now, most of my time will be spent at Pedacito del Cielo (PDC). When the girls go on winter break in a few weeks, though, I’ll be teaching them dance!

This is what I’m most looking forward to. Cochabamba is new to me. Bolivian culture is new to me. These children will be new to me, but dance will not be. It’s my portable comfort zone. More importantly, I think dance is something the girls and will be able to share. Sure, I’ll be stepping into a teacher role and facilitating “class” (whatever that my look like), but I have no doubt that I’ll walk away from the experience having learned a thing or two from the girls. Each individual, after all, moves in their own way, and so does every culture. Dance, like language, is a form of communication.

Tomorrow, then, marks the end of my “insulated” time in Bolivia, the end of living like a tourist, disengaged from the community that surrounds me. This time hasn’t been bad; at moments, I’ve even seen it as the light before the dark, a preservation of my comfortable way of life before opening myself up to the lives of children who face darker challenges then the ones I faced as a child. I’ve begun to wonder, though, what this does to me…that is, how considering something potentially dark and depressing affects my ability to be open what is good and joyful. So…I’m changing my way of thinking. This is not the light before the dark, but rather the light before the question mark or, as the title of this blog entry states, “The light before the…?”

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