Brown Girl in Brownsville

Brown Girl In Brownsville

Stepping out of the airplane after spending hours en route to Harlingen, Texas was nothing short of glorious relief. The warmth of the Texas sun reintroduced me to the beauty of green grass, blue skies and trees not encased in snow. What a wonderful change! A short lived change, as the next day the pervasive nature of old man winter found its way the Southern Texas and unleashed an unexpected chill. But, within a couple days, the weather returned to normal and I was able to don shorts and enjoy the significant temperature shift.

As an African American woman, I’ve always considered myself to have rhythmic abilities and the highlight of my week came when I realized that part of me needs some work! As part of my Texas experience, I participated in a Zumba session in Brownsville. I will admit, Zumba is one form of exercise I have not experienced, but I figured I could catch on. Upon arrival at the Zumba site, there were several women huddled in clusters, laughing and having a nice time. Once inside, we all separated and I picked a spot in the middle of the room and planted my feet. The music started and I was a deer in headlights! Turning at the wrong times and jumping when everyone wasn’t. All the songs were in Spanish and our very energetic leader very rarely uttered English instructions. What an experience! Afterwards, my preceptor, who was beside me during class, explained to me that the songs we were Zumba-ing to were traditional songs and the challenging dance moves were deeply rooted in Hispanic culture. Enlightened, I am deeply appreciative of this exposure to a different culture, music and dance that I otherwise would have assumed I could breeze over having lacked the actual experience. After catching my breath, I found myself wanting to learn more about Hispanic culture in Brownsville and how I can find a zumba class in Ann Arbor!

I traveled hundreds of miles to engage in public health practice and discovered it in a Zumba class. The experience of being plucked from my comfort zone in exchange for a cultural education has been a fun eye opening journey.


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