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Showing posts from June, 2015

Panama's Lessons: Volcán Barú

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For 3 years, I listened to other Volunteers talk about their journeys: from miserable, soul-crushing freezing rainstorms to life-changing sunrises. Every climber had a morsel of advice, a nugget of wisdom, and well wishes for their successors. They discussed the best gear, snacks, and hiking styles. In an amiable one-upping contest, they detailed the challenges they faced and overcame. Some played it off as an afternoon stroll; others dramatized it into a battle of life or death on the steeps of Mount Doom. Everyone was glad they did it, but most admitted they would never do it again.
Not for a second did I believe I could be one of those people.
When I was first told about this volcano upon my arrival to Panama, I was content to admire its beauty from afar. The first time I saw the volcano myself, a stark peak disappearing into the cloudy sky, I was anything but motivated or intrigued. It was formidable and unfriendly. It was neither something I aspired to do nor believed I physical…

The Performance

In a two-hour blur, all of the week’s hard work came to life. Each performance had more energy, excitement, and comedic timing than I’d ever seen of them in rehearsal and the audience loved every minute. As PCVs, hosting a meeting of 10 people is common, and an audience of 30 is a great success. While we started with a crowd just shy of 100, by the night’s peak there were over 130 in attendance from babies to grandparents. Dozens of people walking down the street stopped in the middle of the road to watch- incoming cars had to honk to get the bystanders to move they were so enthralled.
The show started with a song by 13 year old Fidel “I Want to be an Adventurer” about the rugged Panamanian life with a flag cape, backup drummers, and dramatic gestures. The first play, Tres Hijos, was an adaptation of the three little pigs. Instead of a wolf blowing down the house, a parasite comes and attacks those who do not properly wash their hands! Made up of teens from Alto Caballero, their par…

Day 4: Countdown to Show Time…

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The countdown to a 7 o’clock GO.
13 hours (6am): The facilitator alarm goes off at the school. One person rolls over and turns it off. All continue sleeping.
12 hours (7am): Sleepy teens start arriving for the day’s activities. Barely moving facilitators stumble off towards coffee and breakfast.
11 hours (8am): Only 30 minutes behind schedule, morning warm ups begin led by Justin and Katy. They focus on voice work because with an outdoor space, projection is vital. The teens duke it out in a tongue twister competition, then stand on one side of the basketball court and recite their lines to the facilitator’s on the other side loud enough for us to hear.
10 hours (9am): Leigh, Justin, Andrea, and I judge individual talent auditions and the youth pull out all the stops to get their songs, dances, poetry recitations, and skits into the night of performance. Meanwhile the other facilitators hold final scene rehearsals with their actors- many surprising us by being off book!
8.5 hours (…

Day 3: Music, Monologues, and Monsoons!

Today was an exciting day! We started by playing trust games led by Leigh. The kids enjoyed them and started to build ensemble within their groups. After trust games, I taught everyone the choreography for the dance we will be performing on Thursday night. All the kids learned it really quickly, and four of them volunteered to sing the song while the rest of us dance at the performance.
After lunch, Hennessy taught the kids how to tell their own story. They spilt into partners and told each other about their happiest day. Then they told the stories to the whole group. Fidel, who won one of the spirit awards, told a story about when he gave a presentation for his class and he was scared at first, but then he did well and realized that presenting wasn’t scary.
Then Justin and I taught the group how to audition and give positive and constructive feedback. Four kids signed up for the auditions tomorrow and they are going to perform a variety of acts including poems or songs. If they do…

Day 2: Becoming Actors!

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Hey Everyone! Justin and Leigh here with an update from the first full day of camp. At this point we’ve been awake for about 18 hours of pure fgdddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd… sorry just briefly fell asleep.


To start off the day, you might say we rocked our bodies with an hour of introduction to warm ups, theatre yoga, and movement exercises, in an effort to become more familiar with how we use our bodies as we move about the stage. You might also say that we spent an hour imitating monkeys and jaguars. After a drink of water, we moved on to take a first look at our individual scripts. Participants were introduced to the table work process as each play completed a read-through by the actors. Local health promoters made an appearance to shed light on the idea that monetary resources can be replaced by creativity in promoting practices that lead to healthier communities, such as improving water collection, treatment, and storage.

We then enjoyed a hearty lunch to prepare us for…