Voy a Bailar

dance colibri

There’s a bunch of standard ways to stay healthy in the tropics when off the standard tourist beat: drink filtered or bottled water, wash your hands, wear shoes. But if you want to be well, it’s best to dance.

For older gals like me, you’re extra lucky if you have a son who is a musician and teaches Spanish to middle schoolers. In early 2018, mine sent me links to several current Latin tunes in response to a request for wholesome music we could play at my elementary school’s multi-cultural night. So when I went to Nicaragua, I had a mix of some of the greatest.

One—Soy Yo by Bomba Esteréo—is about a girl with confidence. The video tells her story as well as any words could. The morning after I got home I visited our 6th grade classrooms to finish the lessons on preventing child sexual abuse. In our district, elementary school counselors are required to discuss this topic in all classrooms each year. I realized while driving to work, less than 48 hours after I’d left that warm, sweet tropical climate behind, that the first story I’d share with the kids was the one about this child who proclaims “Soy Yo” (“I’m Me”) and chants to herself “Relajar” (“Relax”) and “No te preocupes” (“Don’t worry.”) Since sexual abuse has had a significant presence in my FOO’s story, I know how important restoring confidence can be. The second clip, a story told by a 12-year-old who was regaining his confidence after telling the story of being abused, was softer to hear and then discuss after Soy Yo.

Another favorite tune for me is Vivir Mi Vida (Live My Life) by Marc Anthony. The video doesn’t live up to the fantastic lyrics and rhythm but non-Spanish speakers can always tap into Google Translate for help.

During my recent trip to Nicaragua, whenever I felt myself start to tighten up, I called up a tune on my iPhone and danced a few bars. For a change I remembered the salsa steps from the dance lesson earlier in the week and danced in my pajamas one morning with my homestay kids, all of whom are semi-pro folkloric ballerinas.

Thank you, Clarke Reid, Teacher Man. Such a fabulous idea to enliven classes by exposing your students to new tunes from Cuba, Columbia, Puerto Rico, the DR, etc. Then after they’ve successfully learned the lyrics by the end of the week, rewarding them with the video. Much better than verb conjugations drill…much better. Then gifting your grateful Mom with the playlist. Gracias, muchas gracias.

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