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The work in its essence…

Hello friends! ¡Chicos y chicas!

Guess what? Today, you will hear about my experience with the 1st organization I worked with: Special Olympics of Puerto Rico.

Special Olympics of Puerto Rico works with athletes that focus on sports like: basketball, tennis, bowling, and others. They are athletes with down syndrome, autism, and problems with speaking and language. I approached their sports’ director Angel Arroyo to bring this opportunity to teach dance to these athletes.

I decided to focus with them in Contemporary dance. I chose this form of dance because it is focused in movement, feelings, and the connection one can have with the things that surround a human being. I strongly believed that these students will bring the insight they have within to help embrace who they are with more power than ever. I taught it twice a week for an hour focusing on three things: warm-up, guided-specific improvisation, and choreography.

These students did so well! I didn’t know what to expect. I have worked with students who have had down syndrome back in one of my trips with JUNTOS Abroad to Guatemala, but this was different. There were the facts like: screen/computer vision, sound interference, and the most challenging one was to understand how the students were doing or feeling about the class. They had to learn how to connect with zoom, understand why I was sharing what I was sharing, and discover ways to feel good about the movement given.

Thanks to the students and the parents telling me after class the changes and transformations in their kids, it really helped to lift up my spirit to continue teaching contemporary with them. It was very gratifying, especially when I asked of them to get nice for the last day to present and they did. They had make-up, clothing with colors, and the excitement in them to present. They enjoyed and we even had a mini audience to watch them!

Check it out ↓

In the end, that’s what you seek and know you’ll get when you are closely working with JUNTOS. I was seeking a goal to be fulfilled and until it ends you don’t know that it will be  as rewarding as it was. It filled up my heart more than I expected.

La gota que colmó la copa

When I say “La gota que colmó la copa,” it means like the phrase “the tip of the ice berg.” Something was coming, but I/we couldn’t picture how big of a turn it will take.

These past few months I’ve been working in what I have wanted to talk to you about since the beginning of this blog. This is my JUNTOS Ambassador project. It’s been a journey!! I have missed sharing my experiences with all of you, my readers. I hope this serves you well and you can relate one way or another to my stories with JUNTOS.

A year ago, I started building up this project with other ambassadors by my side. Individually, we had to complete our own tasks, but helping each other. We did, but we had to go our separate ways when COVID-19 pandemic happened. We had to develop a creatively, different project in the midst of it all.

It hasn’t been easy. I had to move to my country and work the project there. I decided to do it there to start and develop my ideas well for the future and see how it would go.

Don’t worry though, I had work done. I build up connections, looked for ways to teach, fundraise some money, worked some JUNTOS workshops, and worked from home. I had to make my own adjustments, find new ways of communication and learning, do different teaching experiences, and face the real challenges of the world, which were so many. But as they say: when there is will there is a way.

I had time to find organizations to work with, people to talk to during uncertain times, and build up my own network in dance to develop this project with additional work I was doing on my own.

I hope you get to enjoy the rest of this blog with me. I plan on showing you some of the organizations I worked with, the fun videos of teaching, dancing, pictures, tell you about the challenges, and what I plan on the future because there is MORE to come!

Stay tuned because it will be up sooner than you think!

Check out my next blog →

Let’s talk about salsa!

Hola chicos!

Welcome back to my blog. I am very excited to share with you what I have been up to. Check it out!

This past week, I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching salsa during a Live with JUNTOS. It was so fun to go back to my roots and teach others something about me and my culture! This not only brought me an opportunity to teach, but also helped me raise funds for my JUNTOS Ambassador project, which is looking good. I am very excited to keep moving forward with it and come up with creative ideas that you can be part of like: giving private lessons, have a virtual movie night, and bring a virtual performance.

Today, I want to focus on my experience through this process of teaching virtually for you to know a little bit of my perspective, knowledge, and main focus to make my JUNTOS Ambassador project a total success.

What was it like teaching salsa?

Studio (Car Garage) for Salsa Class!It was a new, but incredible experience! JUNTOS has always brought people together from different scenarios, and on Saturday May 2nd I had the chance to show that once again. I taught salsa, a latin fusion technique that works with footwork, rhythm, sensuality, and salsa music. I taught it step-by-step in English and Spanish. I want to emphasize that I did this because it brings people together by not only learning a new step, but a new language. Of course, the purpose was not to teach a language, but I wanted to acknowledge each individual in the room. I wanted to include everybody in the flavor that is salsa. In the class, I would count “uno, dos, tres” and then “five, six, seven,” the salsa counts. I would also explain or mix the words short and sweet in both languages. It was active and precise. In addition, they learned the basic salsa step, the different salsa positions (1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th), as well as right and left turn. We even had a chance to add in a little combo at the end. I couldn’t really see most of the people, but I felt their energy coming through the screen and we had so much fun!

Why is teaching important to me?

As I mentioned before, in my class I wanted to express inclusivity and connectivity. I try to do that when I travel abroad with JUNTOS so that all of us volunteers and communities can share our cultures and learn from each other. I love where I come from and I want others to feel the same way about themselves. Sometimes it is difficult to be noticed, but there is always a space that will bring awareness. That space is me working with you. That’s why I teach. There is a connection between the student and the teacher that creates a bond of movement that has flavor and style. My purpose for this class was to help others have fun. I wanted them to learn to apply the basic salsa steps as they went out dancing with their friends to a party. I think I achieved my purpose because people wrote good reviews about it. They also gave thanks to me at the end of the class and the JUNTOS administration, which filled my heart with gratitude. It demonstrated the momentum, dedication, and bravery each person had when they took my class.

As we move forward in this pandemic, let’s think of and with each other. We can learn by listening, watching, and treating each other well. We have to stay connected, positive, and moving together. We are not alone, but together as I have mentioned before. I have had my difficult times too, but by writing and staying occupied with something that fills my heart has helped me understand more about the world. I have come to understand that I can move my body to transform others like you, mis amigos y amigas.

Please stay tuned and write any questions you might have. I hope you have the opportunity to dance with me one day!

¡Gracias por leer mi blog!

See you soon for more updates on my JUNTOS Ambassador project.

-Coriselle Martinez

My JUNTOS Ambassador Journey

Hello everyone! My name is Coriselle Martinez and I am a JUNTOS Ambassador. I am so excited to share my story here with you. I will be sharing my journey with JUNTOS and the impact it has brought to me and many others. But first, I want to share some discoveries I have made to re-organize and create content for my ambassador project during the COVID-19 crisis. These discoveries are new ways that help my project to grow during these circumstances. In times like this, I want to share why it is important to understand how I connect with the mission of this project and how I build ideas for it.During this pandemic, I have explored different ways to support my project through:

  • Raising money through online fundraising
  • Making connections with other people
  • Taking virtual classes that highlight new ideas I can explore

It has been a self-discovery for me to live in the midst of this pandemic. There are brilliant ideas coming through art in different parts of the world. I think it is important to remind ourselves that we are alone but together in this crisis. Therefore, we can find new ways to communicate, interact, and enjoy together with creative ideas. In addition, I have others who are supporting my project through social media, which has been the best medicine. Staying preoccupied with researching and developing my project, has improved my experience during this crisis.I intend to continue developing more ideas that will reveal my mission towards dance and the arts in my project. I find that engaging different arts together can lead to a path where we understand each one another. This includes being humble, selfless, and genuine. Therefore, sharing my experience here with you is one of my initial intentions as well as connecting people together.I invite all of you to follow my upcoming stories. They will hopefully call your attention, inspire, and make a change in your heart about how the arts, in this case dance, can speak what we try to invoke. That dance can connect voices, bring people together, and can make you feel good. These stories will also say more about my project and bring ideas that can help you and me progress even when time is paused.Keep connected, keep inspired, and stay tuned!