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Five amazing Discover Panama volunteers are just beginning their homestays in the beautiful town of Monte Grande. Below are some quick stories and thoughts from their first few days in community!

Things are very different in Panama. Today I learned how to wash my clothes in the sink. Through this trip my perspective has changed a lot. For example, I now think an indoor shower is exciting but should not last more than 5 minutes.

My Spanish has improved but that is not all I have learned. There is an entire culture here and two weeks is not enough time to see all of it. I’ll try to be the biggest sponge I can be and soak up all this information!

The name of the school here is Escuela Monte Grande. There are 30 kids who attend the school from grades one through six. There is one teacher that teaches all of the grades. The schools in Panama are painted white and blue because those are the colors of MEDUCA, the Ministry of Education. During our time in Panama we are teaching lessons about water conservation, hand washing, and dengue – a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. To do this, we are playing games with the kids to make it engaging but at the same time informative. I am so glad to work with and support these students!

Today we finally got a chance to do our laundry. It felt nice in the end, but boy was it a journey. It took a ton of explaining and repeating from Senora Monica, our host mom. The main confusion for me was the soaking; did we soak our clothes before, with, or after adding soap? In the end we didn’t even actually soak the clothes for any time. After much confusion, we put the clothes in buckets of water, put in powdered soap, and mixed it around. After that, we washed the soap out of the clothes. Finally, we hung them on the clothesline. This was definitely an experience and harder than throwing my clothes in the machine. Regardless, I can’t wait to put on some clean clothes tomorrow!

Here is a poem written by one of our volunteers:

Home vs House

A house can be a home
But a home may not be a house.
Where hearts get filled with content
And where a head has thoughts of happiness
Where your emotional tank has only happiness present?
That is a home.
A home is an ever changing location,
Not marked by a structure,
But by a feeling.
And as you roam the Earth,
The Earth becomes your home.