Peace with Dance
My first few days in Bangalore were very overwhelming. Surrounded by a new environment, people, and way of life, I was often stressed. Arriving from the airport I remember not knowing what our schedule entailed and when all our assignments would be due. Quickly learning that the local lifestyle is very easy going meant that planned events were often susceptible to change. This made me uneasy because I am not the best at checking my phone for last minute updates.
To counteract these worries, I thought back to the advice previous GCIL students gave me during our meetings in the U.S. I remembered how they said I would pick up the flow of things with time. They also strongly urged us against being a home body the first couple days. Staying comfortable will only prolong our discomfort. I took their advice and ran with it. Jet lagged, I went out with a group and explored our local area by foot. Running on 4 or 5 hours of sleep, I was able to locate a few atms for cash, take an Uber to commercial street, indulge in some authentic chicken masala and visit a bar to wrap up the night. Time felt like it moved slower here with so much going on but I started to enjoy some of the daily discomforts. The planned field trips have been an additional treat giving me some structure and more experiences to set my stress to ease.
It was not until a trip to the Parikrma school did I started to relax. It was very heartwarming to learn about the NGO and their mission to support slum children until they are able to find a job in society. Kids growing up in the slums almost never get the opportunity to become educated and the numbers only get worse for girls. The school gives the kids a place they can feel safe and enjoy coming to. This became apparent after visiting one of the first grade classes. As we entered my colleagues and I were immediately greeted by the words 'big sister' and 'big brother' translated from Kannada, the local language. From a young age the kids at Parikrma learn not to see differences in people by calling everyone 'brother' or 'sister' instead of 'ma'am' or 'sir'.
The frequent laughter and cute kids constantly pulling at my arms and legs couldn’t help but put a smile on my face. As the class continued they recited songs like I’m a Little Tea Pot and Jingle Bells bringing me back to when I was their age. I got the opportunity to not only hear some of the songs, but also teach them dances from my childhood. We danced along to the cha cha slide and some of their local favorites quietly listening to a phone project the music. I am grateful for the opportunity to have spent time with those children and feel more than ready to dive into what’s next.