Team Kenya 2017, Great and Grateful

February 15, 2017
16442707_10154107839357665_1535564497_oThe children are really helpful in setting up the acro-mats.

We are born wise, we are born complete.

Said the yogi tea bag.

We are born.

Says Chez.

It is random and often incomprehensible for so many people all over the world.

Life and death coincide.

Side by side.

We learn how to protect,

be protected,

and to offer protection to others.

A lot of our work this week has been focused on young people who have run away or been forced out of any stability from a family, home safety and trust in humanity.  Yet they have been some of the most welcoming and excitable audiences for our shows and engaged during our workshops.

This week we have been offering some serious amount of playtime to all our outreach sessions and sharing all the energy we have to bring smiles.

  • Boys Rehabilitation Centre 3 session and a special fire show.
  • Boys next step centres after rehab and into learning step 1 and step 2.
  • Rural Orphans and Vulnerable Children centre, 2 day residency
  • Heshima Disability Centre http://www.heshima.org/heshima-children.html
  • Refugee young women with their babies and children.

As we leave the centres I ask myself is this work simply a distraction? And is that ok? Can we ever do enough? Always wanting to offer more and return to build a relationship.  Speaking to the range of adults who run these various NGO’s it is clear from their feedback that our work here is a crucial part of supporting the young people to communicate with each other and safe adults (and that safe adults do exist), that being physically challenged keeps the mind clear and our simple message that everything is possible with practice.

This continues our understanding of circus as a metaphor for life.

I am reminded that enough is exactly that, enough.

We bring colour, silliness, comedy, storytelling, swirling objects and lightness.

The children and young people we work with this week come from drug addiction, street life, trafficking, rape, abuse and seeking refuge.

These traumas cannot and should not be labels.  They all have the rights to play, childhood, fun, and a safe place.  Our work can be offered as these young people are now in safe places with somewhere to sleep and food provided; so we are directly supporting their journey of recovery in offering play therapy, laughter, attention, guidance and peaceful role-modeling.

Some moments to share;

-We have an absolute hoot eating dinner with the boys as it’s turning dark, trying our utmost to be quiet, but finding it all so lovely to have new people eating with them the boys just silently giggle with us, who find their giggles infectious and in turn we laugh, the best therapy of all.  We have promised them a surprise after dinner and under the full moon we offer a prayer of respect for ‘Moto’ (Swahili for fire) and dance with fire, spinning and swinging, swaying and swirling.  This turns into a very exciting dance party with all the boys sharing their brilliant moves and being utterly present together.  It is humbling to hold such spaces to experience and witness.

-We arrive at the Heshima disability centre with very little information of what to expect, and this is the best way, we allowed ourselves to flow int the work and respond to each child’s needs.  Jess, Abi and myself spend the afternoon offering sometimes very gentle sensory play with scarves, sound, ribbons and fabric, and sometimes outright slapstick falling over in their outdoor space.  We end the session with a big dance involving the children and their mums who have taken a break from their creative project, this family interaction work feel suitably important here.  We climb in a verrrrrrry full matatu (bus) with the mums and children to get a lift home, the energy is alive, the smiles are wide and again I am left with a humbled feeling that we can interact with such delightful young people.

-Slightly apprehensive arriving to over 100 young girls who all have cool hair, hats and teenage attitude, we instantly got them on side with our ridiculous arrival sequence of trying to get changed, go to the loo and drink some water, place them in the shade and play discreet in a wide open grassy space.  Offering our story in Swahili of the sun disappearing and trying to get it back we have ultimate fun playing limbo, dancing around the tree and finding out about each others lives.  Despite the stories of these young women there is a wonderful sense of sisterhood and community from them.  We are welcomed into this and share a wonderful afternoon of fun and laughter.

Being grateful is key to this life.  We have a 6 days break now and instead of being guilty for having biscuits and access to a computer, I am grateful that I have the space to re-energise and get ready to go forward to our lovely next project in Nakuru.

The wind blows through the open window.

The big suitcase is still full of circus equipment to take on the road to next project.

The peanut butter is almost finished.

We are now a fully well team of 5, having been 3 all week, it is great to have more power to go forward .

Pamoje, (together)

Yote Yawazeikaka. (Everything is possible)

Amani. (Peace)

Chez*cxx

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In between workshop and show we dress up, make up and prepare on the street side for arrival to the performance.  What a laff!
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Team India Blog post No.4 : Varanasi — Arrival, Asha Deep School and Duniya School.

February 14, 2017

Get ready! Team India has landed in Varanasi! Unrelentingly noisy, deliciously high energy, and ruthlessly chaotic, Varanasi is a whirlwind of colorful fabrics, aggressive tuk tuk drivers, and spiritual waters— namely the river ganges, or “Mother Ganga” as our students call it.  Varanasi is fascinating for a plethora of reasons; it is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and it is regarded as one of the seven holy cities as according to hinduism. Here in Varanasi, ritual is present in each moment, with a stroll down the riverside quickly becoming an intimate glimpse into the ceremonial honors of life and death. Devotees come from all over the world to cleanse their souls in the River Ganges, or to cremate a loved one nearby, specifically in the “ghats” or sections of city directly bordering the river. Varanasi is also a music hub in india, and one might hear the tinkling melodies of a flute, tabla, or sitar coming from just about any corner of this city.  Rowan’s (a cherished team member from Leeds, England) mother Susan advised her that a cities worth can be judged by the amount of musical instruments that can be seen inside them, and if this is true, than Varanasi is a very worthy destination indeed.

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(PHOTO 1 : MISTY SUNRISE ON THE GANGES RIVER)

Arriving in Varanasi, the team was pleased at large to finally have a larger-ish accommodation with a KITCHEN!!! After a full month of eating out, being able to prepare food at home according to each of our individual culinary whims was a fresh breath of air.  We also have a lovely roof to spin on night and day, which helps with general quality of life since all of us silly clowns regard flowing, spinning and movement as crucial and necessary sustenance for our everyday lives.

(PHOTO 2 : ROWAN WITH VARANASI IN HE

Upon arrival, we performed our show for the school children we would be working with in the coming month. We hope to inspire the children with our show, displaying what is possible with each prop in a themed performance setting.  This will hopefully directly motivate the evolution of their own show, which debuts on March 4th.  This show will mark the end of our work here in Varanasi, and it is a wonderful showcase of how advanced the children here are in their practice.  They are ready to take the next steps in honing their circus skills and develop their own show with full artistic control.  It is beyond inspiring to be around fellow performers, even if most of them are a bit smaller than us!

We were all very excited to begin our month long teaching stint in Varanasi, as this is where the original site of the beginnings of PWB are: at a school called Asha Deep.  Here the students have been training for the longest (the program has been running at Asha Deep for 9 years now! :o) and have a great set of skills already established.  And those expectations were not disappointed.  Many of the children here can juggle/pass three clubs, spin intermediate level poi, and can hoop better than me.  Some of them were even doing fan tricks (!!!) and unicycling all over the ground level of the school.  We were excited to introduce some new toys to them like slack line and rope dart, and help them hone their already strong skills in other disciplines. In the following weeks we will be focussing more on the show with Asha Deep and getting into rehearsals, costuming, music and the like.  Much Excite!!!

The second school we are working with is an adorable little place just down the street from Asha Deep called Duniya School.  But the similarities between the schools are few and far between.  At Duniya School most of the children are still beginners at circus, so this first week was all about discovery.  Introductory free play with the props is the best way to get minds engaged and to allow the brain the freedom to choose with props call to which person.  It is a joy to facilitate this process as im sure all of us experienced prop initiation at some point.  To watch children play is to watch a flower blossom in the sun.  When allowed to play, the children are ridiculously inventive with the props and hilarious to be with.  Some children were making beautiful prop mandalas with the practice fans, and playing hopscotch over the patterns.  Others were doing cartwheels next to rolling hoops and picking the hoop up as their bodies come upwards again.  Some children began to play cricket (super popular here) with the clubs as a bat and a juggling ball as a ball.  We had to stop that due to concern for the props but the idea stands—- kids are so imaginative and smart.  It is an honor to work with them all. 

Cant wait to see what the rest of this month holds for team India 2017 — catch us sipping on Lassi’s and juggling along the Ganges!

Namaste,

Ling


Team Nica 2017 ¡así si! En Español

February 10, 2017

Terminó nuestra primera semana en Leon y las cosas se ponen cada día más emocionantes con talleres y presentaciones a diario.

Al terminar el Berrinche Ambiental, nos trasladamos a Leon a iniciar nuestro trabajo con los niños y niñas de el proyecto ” Chavaladas” , un orfanato temporal para niños con familias en crisis económica o emocional; y  “Los Niños del Fortín”, una escuela creada para los hijos de personas que trabajan en el basurero municipal.
 
Cada día nos sorprendemos más de lo rápido que estos chicos aprenden y del hambre que tienen por aprender distintas habilidades circenses. Como en todas las cosas, hay altos y bajos, creo que nuestro principal obstáculo ha sido la barrera de lenguaje. En el grupo, sólo Bea y yo hablamos español,  Eli y Ali tienen conocimientos básicos y Esther y Sam, recién han iniciado su aprendizaje del idioma. Pero eso no ha impedido que les podamos enseñar y/o reforzar distintas habilidades.
 
Cada día estos niños y niñas nos reciben con abrazos y sonrisas, y aunque en ocasiones es difícil hacer que se concentren en el trabajo, es palpable que han aprendido muchas cosas  lo que nos da energías para poder continuar.
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Taller con los niños de Chavaladas

 

Uno de nuestros proyectos, Chavaladas, están trabajando en el montaje de su show, que presentarán en la plaza central de la ciudad de Leon, ¡serán nuestros teloneros! 
Entre juegos y risas, se trabaja un montaje que incluye zancos, cariocas, diabolo, hula hoops y clown, entre otras. Ahí es donde nosotros nos sentimos felices, pues ese es nuestro principal objetivo: que los niños y niñas aprendan y sobre todo, que sean felices.
En nuestras presentaciones, cada espectáculo ha sido diferente, desde los escenarios, hasta los espectadores. Pero estamos dando lo mejor de nosotros y eso se transmite a la audiencia y se transforma en sonrisas, silbidos, abrazos y aplausos. Definitivamente hemos mejorado nuestro espectáculo y la gente disfruta cada minuto: Bea con su globo, el fabuloso Lindy Hoop de Esther, Ali y Bea, Sam con su monociclo, Eli y su bola de cristal y yo con mi varita.
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Número de levi stick en la presentación a los niños y niñas de Barrilete

Hemos tenido algunos inconvenientes, como los constantes cambios en nuestro calendario, la impuntualidad de quíen nos transporta a nuestros lugares de presentación o el viajar en transporte pùblico con nuestro vestuario y materiales. Pero eso no impide que disfrutemos cada segundo de nuestra aventura ¡y vaya que es una gran aventura con Aristas Sin Fronteras!
 
En nuestra casa las cosas han evolucionado. Ya no somos un grupo de desconocidos que comparten hogar, ahora somos una familia. entrenamos, tenemos nuestros chistes internos, conversamos, aprendemos y aunque hay momentos en que nos sentimos nostálgicos o necesitamos estar sólos, siempre sabemos que podemos contar los unos con los otros.
 
Personalmente, me siento orgulloso de compartir escenario y casa con tanto artista talentoso, de representar a centroamerica en este tour y de lo mucho que estoy aprendiendo de cada uno de mis compañeros y compañeras.
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Taller con los niños y niñas de Barrilete

Y es que es hermoso trabajar de esta forma ¡Así si!
Rodrigo 

How to deal with difficult students

February 10, 2017

During my work I often feel slightly intimidated before meeting a new group of students.
Its been like this since I started teaching circus, several years ago.
Most commonly it happens when I work with teenagers and I get scared of not being cool enough to keep their interest. Memories of teenage anxieiety of not fitting in kicks in and I suddenly feel like a self conscious 14 year old again.

When I’ve worked in refugee camps, I’ve been nervous about not knowing cultural boundaries for teaching physical activity  with the kids, with spotting or doing splits, or over what to wear as a woman.

During this trip to Kenya, I’ve worked with, what I thought would be, the most challenging groups so far.

In Nairobi we collaborate with The Sarakasi Trust, a centre for professional training aswell as social circus projects in communities that for different reasons has an extra need for circus training. Mainly in undeveoloped city areas, but also in places like prisons.

So, one sunny morning we found ourselves standing outside of Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, preparing to play games, the same games as we play with our younger students, and to teach inmates how to juggle.
I was pretty nervous.
Since my only glimpse of prison life so far has come from watching American series it is fair to admit that I expected a bit of macho culture, hard boiled gang members and comments on the fact that most of us are women, and all of the inmates are male.
The half hour long security check where guards thoroughly searched our juggling equipment, questioning everyhing we brought with us, kind of enforced the apprehension of this being a very serious place.

They wouldn’t even let us bring sunglasses or sunhats inside and the Slackline took ages to be approved. A place where a slackline is considered dangerous must be pretty tough no?

So what awaited us on the inside?
A bunch of polite guys in striped uniforms welcoming us to their home, eager to play name games and throw juggling balls with us. Lots of people wanting to small talk, ask questions about Europe and circus and if we train a lot.
As in any group, there was a few younger guys who wanted to show of their slack line skills.

Before we left, a guy I’d talked with for a bit said to me;
“Thank you for visiting us. If you ever want to see me again, you know where to find me” then a playful smile, since we both knew that he was sentenced to life in prison.

Except for that joke, and the sunburn on my nose, since I didn’t have my sun hat, it was pretty much exactly like any other circus workshop I’ve given.

About a week later, we started a project together with our newfound partner organisation Amici de Bambini, AiBi.
AiBi put us in contact with a rehabilitation home for street children, Kwetu Home of Peace.
We came in during the first phase of rehabilitation for a new group of young boys. During the first three months of their stay the program focuses mainly on finding daily routines together. They are also offered sharing circles and therapy to process their experiences. We came in just two weeks after the groups arrival to support them with activities and training to enforce their self esteem, team spirit, joy and playing.

As we planned the workshops it was clear that some of us had anticipations considering the target group. We thought that teenagers who are not used to listening to adults, some who are at the same time withdrawing from drug addiction, might not be super excited to listen to a group of unknown foreigners, trying to convince them to do childish games and juggle scarves.img_4470
So I felt slightly intimidated by the thought of going there and trying to practice my authority. I’m very happy that did not stop me.

After my first workshop in Kwetu Home of peace, I went home, feeling ashamed of how predjudice I’d been.

When we arrived the 20 boys where all ready wainting for us, the room was literally glowing with expectation. I’ve rarely seen people so eager to learn and try out new things. Juggling, acrobatics, hula hoops, slackline. Everything we offer them has been accepted and given their full attention during workshop hours.

Now its two weeks later and tomorrow we have our last workshop with the Kwetu boys.
Seeing their creativity and being part of their training has been mind blowing and extremely enriching, also for me as a teacher. I cant help to think of how much we would have missed out on if we’d let ourselves be scared off by the thought of working with difficult children.

Couse here is the thing! I don’t think it would’ve mattered if the Kwetu boys had started out opposing us and the men in prison had been macho and self-rightious.
As long as we bring them something interesting and fun enough, in this case circus, they are going to want to learn, be included in the group and be friendly to the teacher.
By offering something the people want, you make yourself irresistable for a short while. And that’s how you make new friends.
That’s how you connect over cultural boundaries, over language difficulties, age, gender, sexuality, you name it.
That is how you start communicating, by offering something you know to someone you don’t know.
By playing silly games,training and by creating spaces to have fun together.

– Mira Unde, PWB Kenya
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A Week at Gandhi’s Ashram with Manav Sadhna

February 7, 2017

After a marathon sleeper coach journey north from Gokarna, Team India arrived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Famous for fabric weaving, embroidery and Gandhi, the city is an energetic step up from the calm of boot camp. Even crossing the roads has taken some getting used to. With the armies of auto-rickshaws, cyclists and helmetless scooter drivers interspersed with haphazard trucks, hand pushed vendor carts and of course cows, there is never any guarantee that all the road users are travelling in the intended direction of any given carriageway.

 

For the next week we were welcomed in by Manav Sadhna, an organisation based on the site of Gandhi’s former ashram. The organisation has been caring for vulnerable children from the city’s slums for 26 years. 9000 children are cared for every day across five community centres, in different slums, and several hostels for children and teens. Manav Sadhna runs different education programs and provides medical care and nutritious meals for many of the kids. The organisation also works with women from the slums and is supported by volunteers from around the world.

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This is the second year that PWB has visited Ahmedabad and Manav Sadhna on the India tour. Thanks to the time invested in our visit by Manav Sadhna staff we were kept busy. Over six days we visited all the community centres and performed our show seven times, with an additional three fire shows and one impromptu birthday party. Our audiences were filled with energetic and enthusiastic children of all ages making them a joy to perform to. The bollywood dance finale in particular was a source of much amusement for the kids. It was particularly special to perform as part of Republic Day celebrations, one of India’s biggest national holidays. All day the city buzzed with excitement and everyone was dressed in shiny colourful clothes. The flag raising ceremony included lots of traditional story telling dances from the children and after our show we were pulled into dancing circle dances with everyone (or at least attempting to!).

 

Leading a few workshops has allowed us to flex our teaching muscles and made us even more excited about the next months when we will spend focussed time with kids with more opportunities to share games and practice different skills. With so many donations we were able to leave some toys with each of the groups at Manav Sadhna we performed for and taught. Hopefully the relationship between our organisations will continue and we will see the enthusiasm for performance and circus skills develop.

 

For the team our visit to Ahmedabad has been a wonderful introduction to working with the children here and a good initiation to the chaos of Indian city life. It was great to start doing the work we have all travelled here to do. We all love to share circus joy with anyone and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to bring it to children who really have very little and to help out an organisation already making a real difference to so many people. The gratitude shown by the staff at Manav Sadhna on our last morning was a little overwhelming. It was wonderful to have such positive feedback and thanks for bringing our energy and laughter. We are sad to be leaving this colourful and loving organisation but I think we all now feel fully fuelled for the challenges and rewards our time in Varanasi will bring.


‘Given’s’ and ‘Granted’s’ Kenya Team

February 6, 2017

It’s definitely an interesting word. Especially when working in developing countries. It has been a word on my mind for the past few days so here is my chance to share my thoughts

When you drastically change your surroundings -like going to a different country you bring so many assumptions with you. About how you have lived your whole life with things that have always been there, this is when you face your real challenges in exploring; trying to understand these differences- what we take for granted.

For example, When I was in school I was granted access to expressive arts, we did drama as part of the curriculum, art, dance. These classes were in rooms designed for this, the teachers were knowledgable and encouraging. We had a clear structure and tools to achieve greatness. My parents were always there to support me and I had opportunities out of school to dance and express myself.

These are all assumptions in which I believed everyone had. Everyone I knew so far. It is only through traveling and participating in Performers Without Borders projects that I came to realise that not everyone has these opportunities. I was lucky to be born in the Uk, where we provide these skills and opportunities to our children.

I remember a great analogy in which a teacher was trying to show the chance ‘success’ of different people in different countries to his students.

He had them sat in their classroom, their chairs dotted about the room, he gave them each a piece of paper and put a basket at the front of the room. He asked them all to crumple up their paper and throw their paper in the basket.

The students at the front could easily get their paper in the basket, the students at the back had a big challenge get their paper in the basket, this exercise demonstrates how some people have a good chance of success, while others have much more of a challenge on their hands

In my experience as a teacher in Kenya so far, I have seen children so hungry to learn ways to express themselves but without the tools to do so. They have such limited access to teachers, space, equipment and knowledge. Once these children have a safe place to stay, enough food to eat, then they can start to build on their knowledge of other things.

This week we have been working in a centre for boys rescued from the streets the charity ‘Kwetu Home’. These children have been abandoned or run away from their families, they have had to survive, find food, shelter and have sometimes resorted to drugs to mentally escape from their situation. They have had to do this all as children, they have so far lived a very hard life at a young age.

I have learnt so much from spending time with them during our workshops. They are bright and energetic, they absolutely love playing games and laughing. This past week I have been teaching them slack lining- a tight wide line in between two trees to walk across and they have loved it! I have been teaching them to trust themselves to balance, encouraging them to support each other across the line, to keep their eyes up and focus.

Their given was that they are abandoned, the charity that rescued them gave them safety and security. We are here to grant them skills and knowledge.

I am so happy to be helping these wonderful children fulfil their potential in juggling, dancing, bringing freedom and exercise in tumbling, dexterity and perseverance in juggling, teamwork and trust in Acrobalance and slack lining. I hope we can show the worth in pursuing all of these forms of art, expression and learning, because of all the worth it has been to me.

I hope that we can grant these children a glimpse of a more expressive world because their ‘given’s’

So from ‘Givens’ I’d like to give, from being given to sharing.

Thanks for listening

Written By Abi Cooper


PWB Nicaragua, Si Vamos!

February 2, 2017

And we’re off to a roaring start! From boot camp we rolled over to El Berrinche Ambiental Festival, where we performed our first shows, taught kids and met many fellow artists. Now we’re living in the colonial city of Leon, teaching and performing pretty much every day. The impact is already palpable. At the orphanage we go to 3 times a week, the kids are already preparing their show, one to be performed at a school for their community and one to be performed in the town plaza! They’re going to be our opener! But I get ahead of myself…

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Super Hooper at Chavaladas!

El Berrinche as they call it is the only circus arts festival in Central America. It’s aim is to creat environmental awareness, provide free shows and workshops for the communities in Granada , and to connect and empower artists. It achieves all of these goals. We went to support the festival, debut our show, promote awareness of PWB, and have a little fun too.

On the day we arrived, which had been our “day off” there was a scheduling issue (these happen alot in Nicaragua) and they asked if we could do our show in 2 hours time because another group that was scheduled had not arrived. We talked for a second and then settled on the age old adage… “The Show Must go on!” So we crammed into a little bus full of a other performers they had last minute asked to join, and we headed downtown to debut our show!
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Sam on his unicycle with a bowl of cereal on one foot

The plaza in downtown Granada is massive and beautiful, with an old cathedral on one side, and businesses on the other, the show was set up under a giant arch and bell tower of the Cathedral. We were the closer and headliner, if there had been headlines. The spontaneous  enthusiasm from our group, combined with 10 days of rigorous training at boot camp led to us absolutely rocking the show! Hundreds of people cheered us on, both from the town and fellow circus artists. When we nailed the double two high passing finale at the end of our first successful show we erupted in smiles and cheered along with everyone else. There’s nothing like the feeling of hard work paying off. And we all know, it’s on now.
The next night they had an open stage at the palapa at the festival venue. I opened the show with my LED glowballs and Sam closed the show with his truly amazing unicycle act. It was a blast to continue performing and participating in the festival, but also in our own way, by showing our solo acts as well. The next day we headed to a community center and taught the first large workshop. It’s all happening!
On the final day of the event they had a huge parade with everyone from the festival marching through the city to downtown. It was so fun, we got all sillied up and headed off with 300 beautiful freaky artists to proliferate joy! Everyone in our group juggled or hooped and Sam unicycled along. I juggled in the back of a pickup truck driving down the road with clowns and bubbles, out the window of a cab while sitting on someone’s lap, and rode on the back of a cops motorcycle with my propeller hat spinnning in the wind! Life goals, check!
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Juggling in the back of a truck, in a parade, with bubbles! 

We made alot of great new friends and helped spread the word about PWB. When the group went last year, they connected with Rodrigo, a dancer, fire spinner, and community organizer from El Salvador. And now he is on this years tour! He’s great to have along for loads of reasons, but it is especially nice to have a Central American on our team, (since we are in Central America.) Plus now we know how much Plaintains really cost. Anyway, we said our goodbyes and made the journey to Leon, where have been for about nine days now.
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Tour coordinator Bea, with the pink clubs, parading down Grenada. Berrinche sign in green.

We are teaching everyday, primarily at two locations. One is a school called Los Niños del Fortin, with slightly younger kids of both boys and girls. The other is at an Orphanage called Chavaladas with boys in the age group of about 10-16. Our presence, patience, practice, persistence, and mostly just presence is deeply valued here, and it is very apparent. The kids look forward to our arrival, come running out the door with hugs, and start joking around with us. Pretending to switch names around, including with us, “no I’m not Ali, I’m Eli!” “Your not Bea, that’s Bea!” And such. I am impressed with their dedication to learning circus. I suppose it’s that much more powerful when you have nothing else going on. We are working on juggling, stilts, diabolo, poi, staff, hula hoops, acro, and clowning with these kids. Alot of them have previous skills from when PWB visited previously, and left donated props. It’s frickin special, and I can’t wait to actually see them perform a real show.
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Planning the show at Chavaladas

Since arriving in Leon, we’ve done three PWB shows thus far, and now have one scheduled almost every day until we leave. It’s nice to get into the rythm of performing so regularly.  Three of us, Sam, Esther and I also went and did a show at the plaza downtown last night. Upon arriving we noticed a small crowd gathered around some musicians. It was our friends from El Berrinche! I asked them (in Spanish) if they wanted to do a show together, and they said yes! So the six of us teamed up and put on a street show with live music, hula hoop, juggling and unicycle! It was so spontaneous, organic and fun.
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Sam teaches club balancing at EL Proyecto de Niños de Fortin

We’re having a blast, but the challenges are vey real too. Communal living: Doing almost entirely everything as a group can be difficult for a 3 month period, but we are doing as well as any group I have worked with.  Language barriers: Of the six of us, two people are fluent in spanish (Bea and Rodrigo), two have basic conversational skills, (Ali and myself) and two have just been learning since arrival (Sam and Esther), although they are picking it up quick! Nicaragua communication: It’s just different here, Four o’clock usually means any time after 4 but probably before 5. Another time, when arranging our ride to Grenada, we made a plan with a cab driver. Two days before leaving, he calls and says “That days is not good so I’m going to take you tomorrow instead.” Uhhh, no… New driver found. Little things like that are very frequent, and sometimes annoying, but they always work out just fine. Heat: It’s been averaging in the high 90’s most days! And for everywhere else in the world that doesn’t use some obscure system of temperature based on numbers with no relevance, that’s in the high 30’s! Aka centigrade! But I still prefer it to the cold snow and rain.
Well I think that’s about an update for now. The show is rocking. Then kids are learning alot, and super stoked. We are working hard, playing hard, and getting it done. Also, for the record, we laugh ALOT! That part is super important, innit.
Much love from Team Nicaragua!
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It’s all about the kids!