Bennett ’14 Realizing “I’m not in Kansas anymore”

Kevin Bennett ’14, June 5 -   I was born and raised in Brownsburg, Indiana.  Brownsburg is a suburb of Indianapolis and primarily a farming community.  I am used to mostly country music and certain types of rock and roll created by multi-millionaire artists out in California.  The music is great, and it speaks to me in ways other forms of art cannot, but in class today I experienced something even more intimate than country music blaring through the speakers of my old Ford truck as I blaze down the vacant roads alone.

Today, a group of Afroecuadorean teenagers and adults performed several types of song and dance right before my eyes.  They had guitars, drums, maracas, a marimba, and other types of shaking instrument; the music and sounds created were genuine and not enhanced by fancy studio computers or other technology.  It was pure, it was mythology, and it was uncensored.  The soul rhythm of these people came to life in the form of their song and dance.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.  The men pounded at the drums as an upbeat tempo came forth to stir the movements of the women.  They wore elaborately decorated dresses and hats which reminded them of more traditional and ancient times in their culture.  The colors of their instruments and clothing represented the bright, sunny, wonderful days the people spent living along the beautiful coast of Ecuador.

Then came the kicker to the whole situation, they asked us to stand and dance along with them.  I was shocked.  I mean, I know how to square dance, do the limbo, two-step, and a little of the Soulja boy, but I quickly assumed these dances would not help me here.  My mind and pride told me no, but my body told me yes.  I just could not hold it in.  The beat and rhythm of the music had me moving the best I could with the proper steps right along with the dancers.  I admit, it was hard and I was terrible, but it was a blast.  This was the cultural immersion I had been looking for.  Something so different from my times on the farm and around the corn fields of Brownsburg, and this truly did it.  It was tremendous experience to lose myself in the song and dance and forget about every care in the world.  I just wanted to dance!  It was refreshing and invigorating at the same time.  It could not have been better.

Although every morning I am reminded by the sounds of dogs, cars, sirens, and people that I am “not in Kansas anymore” this has been a great thing for me personally.  This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity given to me by Wabash College and I am truly grateful for it.  I cannot wait for what the rest of the trip holds.

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