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Rincón de las Palmas – Avery & Lexi

Our names are Avery (14) and Lexi (13) and we’re in the community Rincón de las Palmas. Avery is from Austin, Texas and loves to ski. Lexi is from San Jose, California and likes to eat fruit.

Today we woke to a delicious breakfast of sausage, plantains, and the sweetest tea known to man. Our supervisor, Jessica, met us at our house to walk with us to the school. We immediately took on the responsibility of a class for the morning. We taught the kids games like Viene el Capitán (Here comes the captain) and Papa frita (hot potato). Today our ECA (extracurricular activities) was a treasure hunt to help the kids with their English. The night before we made puzzles for each subject we wanted to teach so that it would lead to a big prize for cookies for each of the children.

After the treasure hunt, Jessica brought fruits for us to try. We had mango, mango salad (which is vinegar, salt, and mango) and a new fruit called mamón.

After organizing a classroom, we had lunch. Our lunch consisted of rice, chicken, lettuce, and tomatoes. A few hours later, we had some of the school children meet us at the Casa Comunal (the community center) to play games. After the game, we walked home to a delicious dinner of rice, chicken, and tomatoes. We ate with our host mom (Doña Julieta), host sister (Tania), and our host dad (Don Hugo) came home a little later.

In the evening, we had a snack of the sweetest pineapple ever while playing card games with Tania. After the card games we took bucket showers, which is when you collect water to take a shower/bath in. We will end our day around 10pm.

Speaking of showers, we assumed that most of our families would have had running water. Our water shuts off at about 5pm, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Nevertheless, the people both in the community and the program are amazingly welcoming. Everyone in AMIGOS is best friends with each other and we have all bonded greatly.

Avery is still learning Spanish, but she has found alternative ways to communicate. Lexi, being at a more advanced level, has had to step up to do a lot of explaining in Spanish.

To sum it all up, we are ecstatic to be here and can’t wait for the days to come.

 

El Barrero – Robby & Cohen

I am Robby, 14 years old and I am from California. I am in El Barrero community and I love dinosaurs.

My name is Cohen. I am fourteen years old and I am from Austin, Texas. I am in El Barrero community, and I very much enjoy relaxing.

Today we met up at the school in our community and set out to clean the streets of El Barrero. For about two hours, the whole group walked along the roads and paths and picked up garbage and litter. Afterwards, we headed back to the school and began today’s ECAs (extracurricular activities). We were in charge of charades and taught the children how to play while also helping them become more aware of the environment.

Each morning, we walk with our host brother to the school. We interact with very many people in our community every day. We live with Oriel and Carlos. Today, we ate rice, lentils, salad, and chicken. We typically play cards, do laundry, watch TV, and eat together. One thing we’ve learned is that ketchup is good on rice!

 

La Negrita – Madeline & Kaitlin

Hi, our names are Kaitlin and Madeline. We’re both 15 years old and from Washington, D.C. (Kaitlin) & California (Madeline). We’re now living in the La Negrita community with Doña Liviola.

Today we moved and sifted sand so that the construction workers could make cement for the new kindergarten bathroom. Also, we moved piles of excess dirt away from the building site. Lastly, we removed trash and weeds from the bushes and garden at the school.

Our topic for day camps today was bullying, but it was cut short because of a long math lesson. For this reason, we played short team-building activities such as Human Knot, El Gran Viento Sopla, and Viene el Capitán with the school kids.

After school, we reviewed our reflections and went to the kiosco (store) to buy snacks and hung out while stuck in the rain waiting for the bus. Then, we went home to eat dinner with our host family.

We have lots of good memories. For Kaitlin, it was at Isla Cañas. A boy named Cesar hurt his foot and I was trying to ask if his foot (pies) was okay, and I was actually asking if his fish (pez) was okay. Thankfully, with lots of pointing, he finally understood. But I didn’t figure out until days later!

My (Madeline) favorite story/memory at Isla Cañas was when I saw a crab under my bed and then we went on a turtle search and found a turtle moving towards the water right after finding the crab.

Another memory we both have is singing the spaghetti song with the school children in La Negrita. We both live in a host family together and neither of us are fluent in Spanish, so we both are having to step up helping each other out, looking up words in the dictionary, and using as much Spanish as we can.

 

El Barrero: Sanjana & Sloan

My name is Sanjana Jobi, I’m 15 years old and I am from San Jose, California. I’m in the El Barrero community right now. My name is Sloan Wuttke and I’m 15 years old. I’m from Palo Alto, California where I live with my mom, dad, and sister. I’m in the El Barrero community.

Today we went to Penonomé where we learned all about the importance of reforestation and all the different ways Profe and his team go about reforestation in Panama. Then we went to MINSA where we learned what MINSA does and how it has prevented tobacco use over the years. So far, we’ve interacted with our host mother and her 8-year-old host sister. We played UNO together and after that, we ate rice and plátanos.

Since arriving to Panama, we’ve learned about their efforts in prohibiting tobacco use and their efforts in reforestation techniques. Going into Panama, we didn’t have any set expectations as we rather wanted to go along with the present without potential fear of being disappointed if our expectations didn’t match our reality. We’ve made a friendship with our host sister, Alexandra, as we played UNO and taught her a few English words.

 

La Negrita – Kaitlyn & Carus

Hola, this is Kaitlyn and Carus. We are both 14 years old. Kaitlyn is from Austin, Texas and Carus is from San Jose, California. We are partners and roommates staying in the La Negrita community. Kaitlyn is a swimmer and Carus is a dancer.

Today we had a wonderful day that started with lovely rooster sounds. Today we helped move sand and rocks in order to have all of the proper materials ready to begin building the kindergarten bathroom. In addition to helping with the bathroom, we also helped facilitate a few fun games for the school children. We are having a lot of fun with our host family. We live with our host mom, host grandma, and two lovely little girls, ages 1 and 5. With our host siblings we enjoy drawing and playing cards with our older host sister.

Our time in Panama has been fantastic. However, very different than life in the States. Some things that have surprised us were that they wake up really early and go to bed really late. We are very excited for next week with our host family at the school and touring Panama City.

 

El Barrero – Abby & Njusha

Hi, I’m Abby . I am 15 and live in Seattle, Washington. I am in El Barrero community. ¡Hola! I’m Njusha and I am also 15 years old. I live in a small city in California called San Ramon. I am in El Barrero. One fun fact is that we both love to read.

Today we started on our CBIP of creating a garden for the local school. Today we had to break up the soil using a hoe. It was SUCH hard work, but very rewarding. Our ECA today was how to help the environment. We each lead a team of students in constructing a superhero that can save the planet! We walked to school with our neighbor and host sister. We live with our host grandma Doña Natalia, her two sons, and her granddaughter Milagros. We love the food here! Only beans and rice, but still delicious. We love to dance with our host sister and help our grandma to cook.

One thing we learned since arriving to Panama is that the community is super loving and very social. We didn’t expect the natural beauty and how much the people care for their nature and country. There are myriads of memories that we will never forget, but the one that stuck out the most is simply just interacting with the local youth. As leaders, both of us lead ECA activities in the school. An important friendship we made was each other and the friendship with our host sister. Thanks for reading our blog and we hope to write again soon.

 

Rincón de las Palmas – Rachel & KiKi

Our names are Rachel (15) and KiKi (14). Rachel is from California and KiKi is from Arizona. We are in Rincón de las Palmas and are both vegetarians that love tennis and Billie Eilish (singer). We are staying with Doña Lucía and Don Pablo Armando.

Today we went to the school and worked in the garden digging trenches to drain water. We then went and led an activity about superheroes that helped with environmental problems in a 5th and 6th grade class. It was really fun and everyone had a chance to talk with and help the kids. During lunch, KiKi showed the kids how to do gymnastics. They all tried it and had a great time. After school, we went to the Casa Comunal and lead ECAs. We played a lot of games like Viene El Capitán, Sharks & Minnows, and soccer. The kids LOVED the games and were cheering and screaming a lot. It was REALLY fun to see the kids so excited. When we got back to our host family, there were even more people than usual. Usually in the house there are Doña Lucía, Don Pablo Armando, and their daughter with her 4 kids that live in the house next door. Tonight, there were also 4 more kids and a 20-year-old. We all played soccer and then cards and it was really, really fun. 2 of the boys and one of the girls know some English so we were talking in English and Spanish to explain card games. Also today the power went out, so we are currently writing this using flashlights.

One thing we have learned so far this trip is how amazing it is to learn about and experience different cultures and while there are a lot of differences in culture, much is also the same. For example, kids are the easiest to talk to and are very accepting and understanding. One of the most amazing memories we have made so far in community was tonight playing cards and soccer with the whole family. We have both also grown as leaders this week through teaching games to the kids. And one important friendship we’ve made here (there are many) is our friendship with each other. Experiencing cultural differences and uncomfortable situations with each other in the host family has brought us closer together. We are both super excited for the rest of our time in community and also for Saturday when we will get to see everyone.

 

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