August 5th 2019
Welcome back everyone!
I’d like to give you a quick highlight of my first two weeks in Oaxaca. My days would always start with a lovely home cooked breakfast. Señora Clara and I would always greet each other and talk about our previous day in Spanish. It encourages me to listen closely and be quick with forming my own sentences in the language, I have found that the best way to learn a language is to force yourself to converse in it, it seems to be working really well for me! Post-breakfast with the family, I would head to Oaxaca Spanish Magic for a 4 hour long group Spanish lesson. My teachers there are very kind and have a unique strategy of teaching the language, the class structure, in general, was 2 hours of speech, 1 hour of grammar, and 1 hour of private lessons catering towards teaching me the vocabulary I would need to teach dance classes to my students.
I would usually spend the rest of the day trying local street foods and beverages in the company of a book. My enthusiastic self brought 5 books to Oaxaca, and Devika from week 3 would like to tell you that she is through with 3/5 books! As you all know, my JUNTOSAmbassador project was catered towards teaching dance as movement therapy to women in Oaxaca who’ve been subject to domestic violence. In time, I’ve come to understand that the concepts of gender, race, sexuality, religion and political identity are all just ways in which human beings like to organize themselves and categorize the ‘other’. In recognizing that, I have also been able to conclude that those boxes have absolutely no meaning to me. Having said that, I feel compelled to justify why my project caters to solely a group of women.
Although the concept of gender and gender roles have very little significance to the way I behave, I understand that society still distinguishes woman from man. The ways in which this simple binary has caused the lives of many to be affected is frightening. Women all around the world are treated differently and there is no denying that. Every human being should be treated with compassion and love, but there is a life threatening polar dynamic that exists between some men and women that repeatedly shows itself in real life through violence. There is no doubt that every woman experiences this dynamic, however, some have it dramatically worse than others. In some ways, I can say that I understand that dynamic, perhaps in the form of empathy. On the other hand, I am not slow to realize that I have experienced nothing of that extreme.
The 5 books that I have brought with myself are all written by female authors, all 5 of them memoirs. It reminds me that there are some women in the world who have the courage, tenacity and strength to fight for their existence in their own families and in the world of arts, sports, military, medicine and business. There are others who can’t do as little as speak up to the men in their lives. I have spent a decent amount of time pondering if these opposing experiences between women from different parts of the world are different because they are different individuals. That would make the most sense logically, and it would allow me to forget about the suffering of women altogether. It would bring to life a dream – that is to see them as individuals rather than women, giving importance to their individual identities rather than their gender. Another part of me argued that the differences in their lives lie between factors such as education and income, I was almost convinced. I then came to realize that the fact that some women are fighting whilst others remain silent, means that there is something we all, together, as women, have to fight for or remain silent towards. This unifying factor is undeniable in my mind. No matter how hard I try to get rid of the binary in my head, the split still exists in the world around me. I feel unified with other women not because of my gender, but because of our unifying experience as the “other” to a man. I have identified something that affects me very deeply, and I would like to use dance as a way to leave a positive impact on women who’ve experienced gender-based violence. I wish to empower my students and remind them that their individual voice matters. Dance up and speak up!
My teachings at Casa De La Niña, an orphanage and safe house for girls, and Ciudad de Los Niños, an orphanage for boys, begin next week.
Do come back for more stories!