I never did “believe” in New Year’s resolutions, but after the roller coaster year of 2020, I figured why not? My personal goals are to step out of my comfort zone, move without hesitation, and stop overthinking. Obviously better said than done, but what if I told you I actually followed through?
In January, I discovered the description and application materials for the JUNTOSVirtual Global Teachers training program. I was immediately drawn to their mission to use dance as a vehicle to foster leadership and unity across international communities. Plus, I was a former Hispanic studies major, so this unique opportunity would allow me to combine my two interests of Dance Education and Spanish. The training was informative and gave me all the tools and resources needed to prepare to teach my first bilingual dance class. However, I couldn’t help but feel awkward and a little over my head. Which signalled to me, I was indeed stepping out of my comfort zone and wow, what a ride it’s been!
Through JUNTOSVirtual and the overall work of JUNTOSCollective, our Community Alliances are empowered. International students are given opportunities to grow in their dance classes and are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones. JUNTOS provides a space, even if virtual, for everyone involved to feel comfortable and a part of a larger community.
That’s what makes this work so fulfilling! Despite language barriers and the occasional technical difficulties, the collaboration between JUNTOSVirtual Global Teachers and our Community Alliances make it that much easier to navigate because of our shared goals and interests. Everyone is so kind, understanding and committed to the work. In fact, working with JUNTOS has ignited a passion for outreach I didn’t know I had. For about five weeks, I had the privilege to teach the students at Fundación Salvación. We had such a fun time together as they were so energetic and excited for their dance class. Getting to know a few of their personalities, what songs they enjoyed dancing to, and how to teach in a way that would challenge both my teaching skills and their dancing abilities set the stage for a mutual exchange. The students of Fundación Salvación continually showed their gratitude in various ways throughout our time together. A few times at the beginning of class, students would wave in front of the camera with handwritten notes, balloons, and colourful signs. Written and verbal gratitude accompanied by their smiles and eagerness to tackle the new dance day allowed me to see the gratefulness in action. These students remained focused, gave their all every class, made them a joy to teach, and left me so fulfilled and inspired.
As cliche as it is, dance really is a universal language. Although I’ve been able to work on my Spanish, working with JUNTOS and our Community Alliances has given me the tools to sharpen my non-verbal communication skills. I’ve narrowed down how much time I spend overthinking about the what-ifs and commit to the now. I’ve found that I teach with a new kind of confidence, and it’s because I finally understand that teaching itself can be a form of outreach. It takes some amount of selflessness and vulnerability to connect with others while also sharing new information. Students don’t need a teacher that’s a “know it all”; they need someone energetic, believes in what they do and sees far enough ahead to what they can be. Not only has JUNTOS allowed me to reach this conclusion for myself as an educator, but they model it for me as a lifelong student.
In just a few months, I’ve already been able to meet a few of those new year resolutions. Hey, two out of three is pretty great! I’m so excited to add more personal goals and confidently meet them while continuing to work with JUNTOS as a Global Teacher!
– Kennedy Hill
We are so proud to have Kennedy as one of our 22 incredible Global Teachers! Connect with her on Instagram (@kenndances) to stay up to date with her journey!
If you’re 17 years or older and interested in growing your community as you make a global impact through dance we urge you to apply for our April Global Teachers Training running from April 24-25, 2021. This is a weekend full of virtual workshops, lectures, discussions, and training in the JUNTOS pedagogy. We are looking for aspiring teachers to take part in this weekend workshop, to gain the insight needed to teach for our communities abroad. Upon completion of the JUNTOS Global Teachers Training, you will be offered opportunities to teach dance/movement workshops virtually for communities abroad (teaching stipends available).