January 6, 2015

I don’t even know where to begin because after going to the orphanage today I am at a loss for words. There was about 20 kids ranging from ages 4-17. It amazed me to see how happy these kids were after all they have been through. This was an orphanage for children who had been sexually and physical abused. I thought that I would work better with the younger kids since I work with that age group back home but I felt like I really connected with two of the 12 year old boys, Kevin and Giovanny. The biggest challenge was the language barrier which I was nervous about but all you need to do is laugh with them and make them feel loved. The small gesture of a smile goes such a long way. I got to practice my Spanish with the kids and some of the older kids could practice their English because they were learning it in school. They both made me these beautiful string bracelets that I hope to keep forever. Once the kids starting warming up to us, some of the older girls were asking us questions. When they found out I was only 18 they immediately latched onto me. They were so excited to have someone else to talk to who was their age. They wanted to play with my hair and paint my nails, and they loved hugs! The physical contact is so important for them. The older girls showed me some hand games consisting of claps and snaps. It was so crazy because I knew all of these hand games from middle school! They were so thrilled to see that we had something in common and we played them for almost an hour. I was talking to one of the older girls, Shirley, and we discovered that we both have the same favorite color; azul. (blue) Before I left she saw that I had a blue ribbon hair elastic around my wrist and took it off and put it around hers. She said “regalo para mi” meaning “gift to me”. Although that seems so small to some people, she was smiling like she was the happiest person in the world.

After we got back from the orphanage and had lunch we went to a Latin dance class. It was so much fun! We started by loosening up and just shaking our hips and laughing and then danced in pairs learning a few different dances, like the mamba and salsa. I’m pretty sure I was laughing the entire time. It felt so good to just let loose and also get in a really good workout. I really feel like I’m connecting with the other girls I am traveling with and I’m super excited to meet all of the new students coming on Saturday. (There is 20 of them!) I think we are going to the La Paz this Saturday which is a rainforest you hike up and can see these gorgeous waterfalls! I can’t wait to take pictures! That’s all for today, Adios!

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