80’s Dance Party Hits – Be careful!

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I heard Vogue by Madonna twice this week and have been wondering if it is a coincidence or some kind of sign. What would Vogue be a sign of anyway? (Besides the fact that the 80’s had the best dance music eva!) The second time I heard it was at a wedding and the children in the wedding party had so much fun striking poses with us (once we taught them how).

The first time I heard it this week was in a session with a vibrant 14 year old girl. She was done catching me up on the latest week in her life and declared that we should have a party for the rest of the session. Always one to agree to a party, especially one that celebrates her new found identity in her new school: attending everyday and doing her work. Last year, she missed most days of school, never did work, and fist fought her way through the days she did go. Celebration was indeed in order!

I put on Pandora radio which was set to “80’s Dance Party Hits” (Now, how did it get set to that?) and Vogue came on. (This sweet innocent girl asked me if Madonna was dead. I felt old. But at least she knew the name Madonna…)

mexico salesians

The Mexican Summer

This song always reminds me of the summer I spent in La Ciudad Juarez, Mexico between my Junior and Senior year in college. I was living with Los Salesianos, a religious order dedicated to assisting homeless and poor children in the world, and other young volunteers from all over Mexico. At the beginning of the summer, we traveled each day into the desert neighborhoods, visiting little huts and inviting children to our summer camp: Vacaciones Felices Con Jesus (Happy Vacation with Jesus).

Los Salesianos had built a concrete slab with basketball hoops in the middle of the neighborhood as you can see in the photos. Beside it was a small trailer (see yellow trailer below) in which they kept balls and other play equipment. Once ‘camp’ started we split the children up and allowed them to go to two classes in the morning. Each volunteer picked two things they could lead. For example, someone had a basketball group, another volunteer did crafts. Not surprisingly, one of my classes was an English class. The other one was a dance class. A dance class? Me? What I was thinking?

mexico salesians

My English classroom- note white van in background

Well, I had this one cassette tape with me of Madonna. (No idea why I traveled with this tape.) Everyday the kids and I would dance for an hour in the hot desert sun. We’d make up new moves each day until we had the whole song choreographed.

After la ciesta, we went back for open recreation all evening so we really became close with the community members. I was especially close to the children, since my Spanish was not the best. On the last day of camp, each class performed for the community. My English class read a poem and my dance class of course performed to Vogue. I am very sorry that I have no videos of those kids so happy to be dancing on “stage” (the concrete slab). It is 18 years later and I can still see their smiling, proud faces.

Be careful!

As I pick through my photos of that summer to accompany this post, a story sticks out in my mind and made me laugh. My fellow volunteers made me drive the van to and from los barrios (the neighborhoods) each day, carrying the other 8 or so volunteers in the back. There were no seats and everyone just sat on the floor of the van.

One day, we had some priests visiting Juarez to see our program. I must have subconsciously driven extra carefully that day out of respect for them. (The dirt roads were full of holes so the ride was significantly bumpy.) The next day I was driving along the van unavoidably jarring and bouncing and one woman shouts as she is flung across the van, “Por favor, Yodi! Conductir como si los padres estaban en la camione!” (Please, Jodi, drive as if the priests are in the van!”)

80's Dance Party Hits - Be careful!

 

Lesson: Tread lightly, work diligently, and be careful not to knock people all over the van in your carelessness.


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10 Comments

claudiaholguin777

This is beautiful Jodi! This is how I remember it as well! It was a moment in our lives where we all used to believe we could change the world, we were so innocent, but so strong at the same time! We used to talk to gang members as if they were the bishop! I hope we all still have a little bit of that in our souls! And if not, we should be reminded of that from time to time. Thank you for doing that today, to remind all of us of what we all have in our souls as human beings, that potential to reach out to others with kindness and respect as if everybody were ¨very important people¨! Un fuerte abrazo mi hermana!

Jodi Aman

Claudia, I remember going around with you the first day into homes so invite the children! You had such a great demeanor! You’re beautiful! <3

Naila Shakoor

Soooo awesome!!! It sounds like you did some really beautiful work there. I love the lesson at the end of the story too, so profound. Thanks for sharing this great adventure!

Jodi Aman

Thank You, Naila!

Marina Casas Ravelo

JOdi!! I love the story!! I remember those days and all of us working together for something special!
every day all of you are in my heart and in my life!!
thank you!

Jodi Aman

Thanks! Marina, I think of you often to and see your face smiling at me right now! Such a blessing of a time. I think of how selfish I was back then, and regret my ignorance. So it is nice to hear that is not how you think of me! Thanks for reading! Muchos ambrazos! Lots of love! Jodi

Bella

Jodi, I was touched by this post. If you can believe this, my mother has been sending contributions to the Padres Salesianos for as long as I can remember. When we talk on the phone she’ll say, “Oh look! They sent me address labels!” She loves to sponsor their cause. I think it’s so gratifying to participate in this type of program. I’m sure the children appreciated Madonna’s music and I’m still chuckling at the fact one of the kids thought she was dead! She does look a bit like a corpse, doesn’t she? 🙂 Lovely post!

Jodi Aman

Thanks Bella! So nice about the connection to your mom. The Salesian mission for children is a beautiful one. Maybe she’ll read my blog to see what she’s donating to! <3 Jodi

Ricardo Yañez

Que tal me gusto tu relato, soy Ricardo actualmente trabajo para los salesianos en uno de los oratorios, lamentablemente no se miran las fotos que publicas, me gustaría tener algunas de ellas, yo conozco a los salesianos desde los principios de los oratorios, y es agradable encontrar a ex voluntarios que participaron en esta gran obra

Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Gracia, Ricardo, Buena suerte! Yo fijé las fotos!


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