Sunday, January 24, 2010


At my youth center there is a local chapter of a nation wide association for youth, specializing in education and culture through song and dance. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on many of the meetings and practice sessions of this association, watching the kids express themselves through performance. These kids won’t be appearing on So You Think You Can Dance anytime soon but I am glad to see them doing something positive with their time. Tonight was their performance that took place in the large auditorium at the youth center.
Upon my arrival I was ushered to a perfect front row seat by my friend Aziz. He even had to make a kid move for me! Aziz is one of the leaders of the association and he choreographed many of the dance routines that he taught to the kids.
Over the past two months here in El Gara I have watched the kids stumble through the routines making many mistakes and repeating the dances over and over. I got such an overwhelming since of pride when watching the kids and seeing how far they’d come with practice and I was so happy to be watching what I could call “my kids.” There was a hip-hop style routine performed by five girls. Just before the music started to play one of the girls spotted me watching from the audience and her face lit up like a Christmas tree and she blew me a kiss right before the music began. I was honored that she was so excited to have me watching.
The girls really rocked it. They all had their hair down, which is rare, and they were all sporting really stylish clothes and hats. They rocked it like the bad asses I know they are! They are my girls.
Another more interpretive style dance routine was performed by three girls and three boys. I was so pleased with their final performance and they had come a long way from when I first saw them perform the routine.
I love giving these kids all my love, support, and attention. Having such a nurturing personality it makes me feel so good that they know that I love them. They all treat me so well in return.
This was probably the first time that I can say I felt at home in El Gara. It finally felt I was among “my people”. I felt a part of the community. As I looked around the auditorium I saw people I knew and they all made it a point to say hello and shake my hand. It makes me feel more comfortable here when I know there are people around who love and care about me. I am building true relationships with people. Not false ones with people who just want to hang out with me because I’m the novelty item in town. If I can build relationships like these in two months I am so excited to see how the relationships will grow in two years.