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"Humans are like rivers:
when something is blocking our path, we simply find another way to flow forward."

This is what our dance volunteers and community alliance members demonstrated through our virtual programming: an ability to adjust to a new way to share and learn dance from one another. It was a tremendous joy to see both parties working through the constraints of being far away from one another, various technology blips and sometimes significant language barriers. Regardless of these difficulties, at the end of each workshop, every individual left their computer screen feeling better than when they had arrived. That is the work JUNTOS does: we leave people better than we found them, whether near or far. (Amy McMurchie, Interim Executive Director)

JUNTOS is so grateful to all who participated in JUNTOSVirtual Summer Series #1 & 2 – who joined as teachers, performers, sponsors, class participants, and collaborators. Through this virtual extension of JUNTOS programming we were able to continue community building, arts education, and performance, in new and innovative ways.

Through JUNTOSVirtual we were able to share with Dance Volunteers, important virtual teaching skills to aid them during this time of technological transformation.

“Teaching virtually is a new world of teaching. When teaching online classes, I have to remember to set up the music and sound check, learn how to teach without directions and with new landmarks, and figure out what orientation works best when teaching; facing or turning my back so the students are clear on directions. I recall checking in with the students multiple times throughout the class to see how they are doing; if they’d like to move forward or repeat what we learned, with music or without, etc. These are the typical check-ins we give when teaching, but it is much more frequent because we need to give even more care to class when teaching online. A larger effort of communication is needed for clarification when teaching through a device, and that is the challenge we face when teaching virtually. Of course there are tech issues that come up: wifi isn’t connecting, screen freezes, sound is delayed, etc. So, I learned how to navigate these issues promptly and swiftly, and these are great skills to gain as we enter this era of classes and dance resources being offered online. I am grateful for the experience, and it’s comforting to know we are all experiencing these challenges and difficulties together. So, there is a communal empathy and understanding for each other’s online troubles.”

-Dance Volunteer Zara Anwar

Sussan Hrozeck, JUNTOS International Liaison, shares her reflections on the impact of JUNTOSVirtual...

“The girls had the opportunity to do something different during the pandemic; they have not been able to do many activities” La Alianza Guatemala tells Sussan. 

For the organizations and communities alliances we work with, it is not just another virtual event. Having an event with JUNTOS is a big opportunity to change the routine, learn something new, live new experiences with colleagues, cooperate in exercises to activate and improve teamwork. They can also learn what mental health and coexistence mean within the framework of respect. The most important thing is to gain confidence, develop leadership and awaken creativity. This of course, has been difficult for everyone to do in quarantine, but in some institutions and organizations the conditions are even more difficult. The spaces are reduced in size, there are a large number of children and young people, and there are no opportunities for events, classes or volunteers. This leads our Community Alliances to appreciate each opportunity they have to do something different, especially if it is a new learning experience. They agree with the benefits that art gives to the lives of girls and boys. If they all had the conditions and resources, they would probably open permanent programs, but for now it is a dream. JUNTOS believes that in a virtual way we can work to bring workshops and experiences that help in these difficult times; to lighten the load.

The class participants from DIF adolescents shelter in Chiapas, Mexico sent us a special thanks, they were ready early for the classes, and projected the class on a screen in the space that later becomes a dining room. For safety reasons, they cannot show their faces, but they sent us thanks and asked us, “When will we have the next class?” These comments fill us with joy, but above all, respect for the institutions that ensure the safety and well-being of each child, adolescent. We are here, we continue to believe that only TOGETHER (JUNTOS), we can move onward.

Our job is to provide a safe space for expression, a moment to share, to be oneself, to move, to be free and allow oneself to feel, providing a channel to drain feelings and emotions. When we share these experiences with children and young participants during the workshops we can see how important movement is for their mental, emotional and physical health. JUNTOS is able to build priceless, social and emotional skills together. These experiences show the participants they are capable of doing anything and emotionally we can allow the child and teens to believe in themselves.

Despite our personal difficulties and backgrounds, each so different and so distant, for a moment we unite in something simple, like a movement or within choreography, and that moment fills with meaning. Then each student is filled with the sense of, “I can do this and there are people who believe that If I can achieve it.” We feel the sense of cooperation and collaborative work, forgetting everything else and focusing on that moment. JUNTOS Movement Workshops reinforce the bonds of love and friendship with their colleagues and this is invaluable. We laugh with each other, counting and speaking about the experiences that were shared that day, between English and Spanish, laughter and sweat.

“Thank you for giving this happiness to the children” Casa de Luz y Descanso para Niños con Cáncer Mary Carmen, in México.

Why Virtual?!

JUNTOS understands the real need for arts programming to provide mental-health relief and exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic in Latin America. We strive to strengthen relationships with these hard working organizations so we don’t miss a beat when we can get back to traveling.

If you missed our programs over the summer, don’t worry! We have two brand new programs launching this October. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page for more news & updates.