This Choreomundus Journey

Two years ago, I could not pin down the exact emotion I felt. Maybe because it was a mix of everything clumped in a ball that was rammed down my throat or maybe because I was still in a dreamlike state despite receiving news of having been accepted to the Choreomundus programme two months before that. It felt surreal. What I could recall though were questions, dozens of them in fact. But, at this point now, I believe I have answered them all. 

First day of meeting the Choreomundus team in Clermont Ferrand, France

First day high was drizzles, a-bit-nippy weather, too much smiling, a lot of handshakes and “Hi! I’m (state your name)…” while we each quietly gauged the persons around us. If one member of my cohort would say, “Oh I was not doing that!” — do not believe this person. Of course, we were all eyeing each other. We were curious of each others’ backgrounds – what country, what dance, what cards can he/she lay on the table, whatever was important then which may not be too significant now. 

We were labeled ‘Cohort 6’ and we were the “loud-and-have-too-many-questions” group which I honestly do not take offense from. How could we not be loud and not have questions? We hailed from different countries – Ecuador, Brazil, the Philippines, India, Iran, Australia, Spain, Romania, Palestine, Finland, Mexico, Ukraine, Nigeria, Russia, Peru, France, South Africa, Bolivia, and Kenya! This kind of diversity already sets the most obvious challenge – dealing with our differences. Each one of us packed chunks of our upbringing, our experiences, our values, our beliefs, our influences, our stories, and our traditions in our luggage. I can even recall one of us commenting, “We can’t help representing…we need to represent. This is our identity we are sharing.” And I understood this. We were not blank sheets of paper that were stacked neatly in one shelf. We were already several chapters of a book.

It is safe to lay claim on being open-minded. It is easy to say that considering another person’s way of life is just like a walk in the park, if this is really so, please define this park. I am curious as to how this park looks like. The truth is, understanding other peoples’ cultures is not a simple task. It challenged even the most patient and kindest person in our cohort. 

Choreomundus Cohort 6

We agreed. We disagreed. We asked questions to argue, to clarify, to challenge, and/or to understand. We raised our voices. We kept mum. We raised eyebrows. We quarreled like old couples. We got irritated with each other (sometimes to the point of imagining wringing each others’ necks). We clashed. We go incognito sometimes. We got to know each other. We laughed together. We traveled. We launched complaints of all sorts. We settled. We cried. We got disappointed. We got drunk. We supported each other. We reached  a compromise. We worked together. We tested limits. We learned to speak different languages (at least up to the level where we can fairly exchange some basic pleasantries with the locals or not rely on a translator to identify items in the grocery shop). We developed new habits. We fell in love (or in lust). We shared information. We ventured outside our comfort zones. We read, researched, and wrote like there was no tomorrow. We listened. We reflected. We questioned what we knew or what we fought for. We learned, unlearned, and relearned lessons. We gave credit where credit was due. We discovered many things. And by God, we danced! 

All these, in the midst of navigating the challenges of being part of a consortium between four universities in Europe. Keywords: visa hullabaloos, housing woes, airfare deal misses, homesickness, bank problems, personal dramas, and deadlines. 

As this journey comes to an end, I am fazed with the same surreal feeling that I began with when the program started. Has it really been two years already? I cannot say I want to prolong this journey because I have to admit that I am also anxious to complete this program. What I can say though is, “Daghang salamat” (Thank you) for I would not change one bit of the whole experience. I am grateful for everything.  

So to my Choreo 6 family, my fat heart says, “I will miss you (and your craziness) when we reach that fork in the road,” but my brain is certain that we will meet again. 

Until then. 


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