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Hi, everybody! I’m so excited to be able to tell you all about this past wonderful week in Coclé!

It was the volunteers’ first week in community and the supervisors’ first week on route. Animal sightings included: toucans, tree frogs, swans, forest crabs, monkeys, and oropendolas. Oropendolas are black birds with yellow beaks and markings. They are really interesting because they weave raindrop-shaped hanging nests from the boughs of tall trees. Community members sometimes use the empty nests in their homes as decoration or storage vessels.

One of the most exciting parts of visiting community is trying all the Panamanian foods and drinks. My favorite food is hojaldre, a type of fried bread that is commonly served at breakfast. I’m sure all the volunteers will come home knowing how to make it! Every once in a while, a community member will slice off the top of a coconut and give you a straw to drink the water inside. It’s the perfect cool drink to beat the heat here!

I also loved seeing the volunteers interact with the kids in community during extracurricular activities. The kids love to play soccer and draw. Often, the kids will draw pictures of the volunteers. One of the most creative ideas the volunteers had for campamentos was a trash walk. The volunteers planned to spend one day collecting trash, and another day cleaning the trash and pasting it inside the outline of a heart to make a collage.

This weekend, we also hosted a Latin American youth leadership training. It was so much fun to meet youth from all the communities. We had about fifty youth in attendance, and they did such an amazing job with testimonials, skits, and poster presentations. We handed out survey questions after the training, and one girl wrote that the training helped her recognize leadership traits in herself that she never would’ve known if she hadn’t gone. All in all, this was a busy yet extremely rewarding week for everyone on the Coclé project. Thank you for reading! See you next week!

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