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By Marien Lopez Medina (YR 44/2019, Nicaragua)

Editor’s Note: Every year, we are thrilled to tell you about the exuberance of Pearson College UWC’s annual One World Performance and Expo in downtown Victoria. This year, we would also like to share with you a story written by second-year student Marien from Nicaragua whose first-person, behind-the-scenes reflection is immediately below. While dancing in four One World acts, during the final performance, Marien said she received bad news from home that was related to the political situation in Nicaragua. But, she told us: “…due to the oppression from the dictatorship of Ortega, the same that has Amaya Coppens (member of my national committee) in jail. However, I posted a photo with my National Costume and how inspired I was for One World. So, in the end, it was not just about performing for me, it was my way of protest.” (Please note, hyperlinks were added)

In the middle of One World, the cellphone rings again to show me pictures, videos and comments on what is happening in Nicaragua in that very same moment: My people are out in the streets, protesting against the dictatorship of Ortega after almost one year since it started, bringing all the courage that seemed to be lost because of the violence, because of the fear.

I’m about to go on the stage one last time to perform Human Migration, a piece that was actually inspired by the massive migrations from Latin America. But the impotence, the frustration, the anger for what the police were doing against the citizens (of my country) took over me, as feelings that I recognize from my past summer. I don’t see the sparkles before putting on a smile to continue with the show…until I remember what I am here for.

As soon as I see myself in the mirror, wearing that National Costume that I’m so passionate about, I remember the past — how joyful we were! I see the bravery of my ethnicity, that identity that I do not want to lose, and I recognize the pride behind those two colours.

I see the people we lost during this whole year of protesting and the pain of all the Nicaraguan families who are praying for this to stop, for them to leave. I see my present, my own sacrifices to make my dreams come true, and my future, through my desire to share these goals with the community that I grew with. 

In that last moment, during the movement around backstage, the excitement of the last show, and the solidarity of my friends, everything made sense. I see my hopes for peace to come over us and let us heal. I encourage myself. I do it with even more passion than before because I know that, behind every single piece, there were reasons for me to continue and I keep dancing because, at the last minute, it becomes my own way to protest.

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Marien’s story reminds us the joyous celebration that is One World moves every participant, every supporter and every audience member in a different and an individual way.

The performances, which are Victoria springtime traditions, showcase artistic talents and, behind-the-scenes show-supporting technical mastery, were welcomed by thousands of Vancouver Islanders – plus some proud parents and family members – during three shows.

For the first time, the College welcomed the Beecher Bay (Scia’new) First Nations Drummers who opened each performance with a warm welcome to the audience and an Indigenous land acknowledgement. Twenty-one dance, music and spoken word presentations followed, a mix of the “traditional” (it wouldn’t be One World without Gumboot and Ukrainian Dances!) and the new (Human Migration contemporary dance, Confessions: Black Woman and One More Step, to mention only a few).

From Pearson College UWC Board Chair Anne McLellan, President and Head of College Désirée McGraw and each and every student, faculty or staff member, volunteer and every proud parent, thank you for your support of One World!