Dancing with Greece - My Family Travels

We were in Greece, in a small town called Gerani, where goats and dogs could still be seen wandering the uneven stone roads. The animals possibly outnumbered the people’s population of about one hundred Greek residents. But that didn’t lower my excitement one bit. I could hardly contain all of my energy for the big dance that later would take place in the town’s square.

“O-pa!” we shouted as my People to People Student Ambassador group learned the old Greek dance. I studied the moves our dance instructor conducted. His features resembled that of many of the new people I met while in Greece; he was a tall man with a slim waistline and lean muscular arms, who dressed eloquently, and had a dark, sun-kissed skin tone. He showed us how to have our feet when we began– with the right foot forward and tilted slightly. I mimicked the action, as did the rest of my group. Then, the instructor’s right foot hopped up and had his heel touch the floor in front of him. His left foot did the same. This movement was repeated and gave the impression of jogging in place. Eagerly, we tried out the new move. That started the beginning of the dance. I found getting the rest of the parts a little more difficult, but I felt proud when I finally got it right.

Now with our new Greek dance learned, we felt ready for the big dance party at the town’s main square. I remember being nervous too, and I told my travel buddy, Elizabeth, “I’m so anxious! And I hope we’re doing everything right, because I would rather not have them think of us as just some stupid Americans.” Luckily, the friendly people of Gerani proved me wrong.

When we first got to the town square, the residents had already gathered and some were ornately dressed with their ancestors’ traditional dance clothing. They were the few who would begin the dance party with a special presentation for my American group. Amazingly, none were above seventeen and the youngest was only four years old! He might have been young, but he really knew how to dance and almost stole the show. They performed three dances, we had learned earlier, while the other two were new and complicated. I loved how the little boy did flip after flip and still kept up with the older kids of the group.

After the small group finished their presentation, they ran up where we sat and asked us to dance. We jumped up and began dancing. I was so worried about my dancing skills for their traditions, but I must have done just fine considering that when it ended a few asked for my email address. They were very nice people and amazingly, many spoke English as a second language which allowed us to have better communication.

In life, some things may be worrisome or difficult and could make even a grown man tremble in fear. It maybe something as nerve-racking as a speech or maybe as simple as making a new friend. That ancient dance from that foreign country let me realize that all I can do is try my best and hopefully succeed. I had been worried and anxious about meeting the strange, new people and showing them what I learned of their culture, but I did what I could and it turned out great. People are people no matter where they live. Even though their English wasn’t perfect and our version of their dance wasn’t perfect, we still did our best and had fun.

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