On September 10th my Journey started. In twenty hours I flew from Düsseldorf (Germany) to Cincinnati (USA) to become a volunteer at Circus Mojo.
My name is Ella. I just turned nineteen years old and I love doing circus (especially to ride the unicycle). I started doing it at the youth circus Configurani in 5th Grade. There I learned how to juggle, spin poi, play the diabolo, ride the unicycle, to do partner acrobatics and teach all of it to younger children. When I finished school 2017, I wanted to do a one year break from the studying before I go to the university and fill it with a volunteering service. Through Internationale Jugendgemeinschaftsdienste IJGD I found the social circus project Circus Mojo.
My year at Circus Mojo was an adventure. I had my ups and my downs, but all in all I am very happy that I got this opportunity.
My work here was diversified.
One of our main tasks was the work in the hospital. We dressed up colorful and brought the circus into the waiting room of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Usually we did a little show for the kids and taught them later how to spin a plate and balance feathers. It was need work, not just the kids liked to get a little distracted from the hospital atmosphere, their parents and the staff enjoyed us too.
One day at the hospital was special. I probably won’t ever forget it. The day started normal. Paul and I were doing a little show at the Orthopedics waiting room. Then a family with two girls came in. One of the girls, I think she was around eight years old, was sitting in a wheel chair. She had no hands and just parts of the upper arms, with which she controlled her automatic wheelchair.
I went to the girls and asked them if they could help me with my juggling and pick the color of the ball I should my tricks with. Both of them helped me great.
Usually our next step would be teaching feather balancing to the kids, but you usually need your hands to balance a feather so I thought it would be unappropriated to offer this to a child with no hands.
But one girl saw the peacock feathers on our circus cart and asked us what they are for, so we showed them how to balance them on hands and fingers and gave one to each girl one.
The girl in the wheelchair picked the feather with her toes and balanced it the other foot through steering the wheelchair in the right direction. I was so impressed by her and it was awesome how much fun she had balancing the feather. She was really talented, her foot balancing was so much better than mine. I have to admit that I underestimated her and I am so glad that she proved me wrong through circus. This showed me one more time the power of circus, which connects people and empowers them.
Another important part of my work at Circus Mojo was teaching circus.
We had a lot of different kind of classes (at schools, events, the children´s home, for the kids from Ludlow and at the Circus Mojo summer camp). Learning circus skills gives children a lot. I teaches them to don’t give up. Especially when you learn to juggle, you HAVE to drop the balls a lot of times before you succeed, but at the end your hard work will pay off. And you can show your new skills and earn the applause for it.
They learn that it makes so much more sense to juggle than to goof around, when they are bored.
Last, but not least we have shows. If you are a performer at Circus Mojo, you have to learn to improvise, be spontaneous and flexible. I needed a little bit time, but by now I got used to the “Circus Mojo style“.
The last year I performed in over 150 shows. I performed at birthday parts, art events (Blink), sport events (Red´s Baseball, Bengals Football), schools, colleges, restaurants, bars, parades, in churches, concerts, on TV and an amusement park.
Some shows were good organized and for some we had to improvise a lot, but at the end we made the audience always happy and that´s what counts.
When I first came to America, my English wasn’t good at all. But by now it is normal for me to lead as a ringmaster through circus shows. The shows built my self confidence.
I learned a lot during my year here. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed, but we worked on it and I grew into my tasks. I am really happy that I didn’t give up. That is what you learn at the circus, to keep on going even, if you drop. And I dropped a couple of times.
One time I tried for example to free mount giraffe unicycle and broke my foot. It really annoyed me at first. I had problems with the American Health Care System, I couldn’t walk and even worse I couldn’t unicycle for weeks. So I focused on my juggling and managing the backstage during shows and it wasn´t too bad anymore.
My host family:
Another reason why I am so happy that I did this is year is that I got a second family. Through circumstances I moved into the house from Penny, who worked at BIRCUS and her family became my host family. I am so glad that I got to meet them and I will miss them so much.
Penny, her husband Frank and their whole family are just great people and they helped me a lot.
Another Highlight of my year is the traveling I did. I got to see so many different parts of the USA.
Penny and Frank showed me Canada, Buffalo, Michigan and California.
When my family came to visit me during Christmas we went up to New York and Washington DC.
Then I visited my uncle and aunt in Florida and a friend of mine in another circus project in Costa Rica. So many adventures I can’t decide, which one the best one was. They were all special on their own way
I could write so much more about my time in the USA, but that would probably make this article a little long.
But I actually did write more about my time here. This is the link to my blogs, which I made during my time here, if your are interested in more.
All in all I can say that the last year was totally different from what I expected, but I am very happy how it turned out. I learned a lot of things the last month and got to meet awesome people.
It will be very hard for me to leave this all behind me, when I get on the airplane tomorrow.