Mixed Feelings by Benjamin Henle

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So the time has finally come. After working on the Arte_Rio project for months, the artists arrived and the workshops are now in full swing. After all the planning, anticipation and set-backs we had, it feels kind of strange now to see the festival coming alive and going its own way. It is a bit like fostering a bird just to let it fly on its own one day. The two weeks before the artists joined us were pretty intense. Changing schedules and plans made it a difficult task to place them in the right communities, schools and home stays. But now that everyone is settled, I can start to see the fruits of our labor on this project, and it makes me proud and happy to witness the students having fun in the workshops and approaching education in a way different most of them never did before. With the festival advancing, my excitement about the final event of ARTE_RIO grows proportionally. However, the fact that the end of the festival also represents the end of my engagement with Un Mundo leaves me with mixed emotions. Having to deal with arrangements for my post-El Pital time while being on the climax of my work here is sort of surreal and I did not really realize quite yet that I might not return to this beautiful place ever again, or at least not for years to come. Thinking about this, I am trying to enjoy every second of my remaining time here, soaking in the amazing natural environment as well as spending as much time as possible with my people here and trying to accomplish all those things one keeps postponing, but which are still on my “wish to-do” list in and around the “Cuenca”.
All in all, I have very mixed feelings about leaving. Not being ready to depart, but looking forward to new challenges, finding some time to reflect on my experiences and last but not least, seeing my family and friends in Germany/Holland again after being separated from them for more than a year. But before that, I will do my best to help making ARTE_RIO a huge success to enable cultural development in the Cangrejal Valley for years to come. Maybe I can then come back one day to find a place with more pride and identity, as this is what this wonderful place and its people deserve.

So the time has finally come. After working on the Arte_Rio project for months, the artists arrived and the workshops are now in full swing. After all the planning, anticipation and set-backs we had, it feels kind of strange now to see the festival coming alive and going its own way. It is a bit like fostering a bird just to let it fly on its own one day. The two weeks before the artists joined us were pretty intense. Changing schedules and plans made it a difficult task to place them in the right communities, schools and home stays. But now that everyone is settled, I can start to see the fruits of our labor on this project, and it makes me proud and happy to witness the students having fun in the workshops and approaching education in a way different most of them never did before. With the festival advancing, my excitement about the final event of ARTE_RIO grows proportionally. However, the fact that the end of the festival also represents the end of my engagement with Un Mundo leaves me with mixed emotions. Having to deal with arrangements for my post-El Pital time while being on the climax of my work here is sort of surreal and I did not really realize quite yet that I might not return to this beautiful place ever again, or at least not for years to come. Thinking about this, I am trying to enjoy every second of my remaining time here, soaking in the amazing natural environment as well as spending as much time as possible with my people here and trying to accomplish all those things one keeps postponing, but which are still on my “wish to-do” list in and around the “Cuenca”.
All in all, I have very mixed feelings about leaving. Not being ready to depart, but looking forward to new challenges, finding some time to reflect on my experiences and last but not least, seeing my family and friends in Germany/Holland again after being separated from them for more than a year. But before that, I will do my best to help making ARTE_RIO a huge success to enable cultural development in the Cangrejal Valley for years to come. Maybe I can then come back one day to find a place with more pride and identity, as this is what this wonderful place and its people deserve.

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