Are we pretending to be alive? By Nedelka Sotelo

Are we alive? Or are we just pretending to be alive?

These are the questions I had in my mind over and over in my head while attending the Beyond Workshop Series with R.Evolución Latina. I found that the thing is we, as human beings, are not prepared to just follow our impulses like when we were kids, back then we were always ready to react at every action with no hesitation and being care-free of what people may think. The whole BWS experience was nuts beginning with the audition process, where at some point I totally forgot I was auditioning to connecting with people from different countries and cultures, until the very last day of performances where I found myself bawling for making a recap of all I have learned during 3 -very intense- weeks.

I remember “la bienvenida”, the first day of the workshop, where we got to meet the team and the main objectives of R.L as an organization. While listening thoroughly to every single word they were saying, something caught my attention, it was Hanley Smith, our coordinator, inviting us to be a part of a volunteering program in a refugee site where they are committed to supporting minors ages 5-16 who have arrived at the U.S. border without an adult family member or guardian, and I thought: “Whoa! That must be really hard” while I felt my heart cracking apart thinking about these little kids.

But feeling bad about it didn’t mean anything if I had the power to make something actually helpful happen for this community, so I decided to volunteer sharing my art by teaching a singing class. The team at RL immediately got me in contact with ASTEP another organization which they collaborate with. The training is fun, it doesn’t take much of your time and is online so you get to learn new stuff for free. All the people are very nice and willing to help you with anything… Yeeess! Everything is a perfect match to help the ones in need.

So, I finally got to the faciluty in the Bronx and talked with my facilitator Rachel Kara, who is also part of R.Evolución Latina, and organized the room before getting started. When the kids  came in the room  my eyes instantly  filled with tears, I felt a weird warm feeling in my chest and I wanted to give a big hug to each one of those kids; of course, as I was the “adult” there, I had to behave, put myself together and start my class. Teaching in my native language Spanish, let me feel liberated and free to make jokes, they were laughing a lot and clearly they were enjoying being in that room.

It was an amazing experience just being there sharing my art, filling them with an experience they’d never had before, making them laugh and helping them forget certain details in their past that they might want to forget forever. I’m pretty sure they got a little something from me like I learned a bunch of things from the BWS. This “world” business is all about making the circle effect work: daring, learning, supporting and sharing.

Luis Salgado y al equipo de R.Evolución Latina por enseñarme a estar viva de verdad. I´m not a Babylon zombie anymore!

Nedelka Sotelo (2018 BWS Student)

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