The lights go out, the curtain closes and we all pack to go back to our real lives. After wrapping up on an emotional six week journey, I look back and see 25 strong, beautiful human beings standing beside me, holding a piece of my heart that I left with them on the stage floor.

By: Susana Alfaro Jimenez, Career Advancement Program J-1 Intern from Costa Rica

I never expected to join the circus. When I looked for options to occupy my time, I never could have predicted what happened next.

When I signed up to be a part of the BUST intensive women’s camp at Wise Fool New Mexico, I didn’t really have any time to think about it. One moment we’re talking about making a video for their campaign, and the next I’ve signed up to get up on apparatus that I’ve never even interacted with. I mean, how was I going to fly up in the air?

The first day comes and I have no idea of what’s going to happen. What will we do? Who will be joining me? Why did I even sign up for this? Suddenly, something happened and it felt like home.

It’s really rare to find a space where people can just be themselves. Where you feel like you can leave that mask you wear for the outside world at the door and pick it up when you’re done. The Wise Fool staff took 25 strangers and turned us into soul mates, just like that.

Through challenging training (and a lot of new bruises); I slowly started feeling like I was working in my body once again; a feeling I’d lost a long time ago. I started being able to climb up and jump off stilts and do a million trust falls without a single doubt that, if I fell, my new friends would catch me.

With BUST I learned how to stilt walk, climb up silks, jump on a trapeze, balance people on my feet, and most importantly, open up my heart. We sweated our butts off and kept trying until we couldn’t do any more. We cheered each other when we failed, when we succeeded, and we grew as one entity.

Joining the circus has allowed me to show my inner clown; to feel comfortable enough to speak my heart out in front of hundreds of strangers. It has made the stage feel like home, where performing with my friends took away the pain of not having my family with me for the first time in my life.

I’ve finally managed to find a home away from home and a community that will always support me. Oh, and some really cool party tricks.

Gain valuable professional experience with the J-1 Intern & Trainee program.