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Panama Service Trip 2018
Today we woke up in our homestays. We ate delicious breakfast with our families before meeting up with the group at ‘La Cancha.’ Together we discussed our first nights with the families and laughed about funny experiences, we then drove to the El Carmen School to begin our service work. We split into three groups. Some of us painted walls, some gardened, and others began painting a basketball court. After many hours of hard, but meaningful work, we returned to our families for lunch. I think everyone agrees that communicating with our families was a little easier today than it was last night. After lunch we hiked through Santa Fe forest areas. The beautiful nature walk led us to a river where we got to swim, relax, and enjoy the sun. We ate dinner with our families and then gathered as a group once again for a cooking lesson. We listened and observed and even got to participate in the making of fried dough, locally known as hojaldre. After snacking and chatting, we all returned to our families for bed. Today was a very eventful day where we got to do service, explore, and immerse ourselves in the Santa Fe culture.
-Olivia P. and Gianna C.
We woke up at Posada 1914 today and we had a nice breakfast. Then, off we went to the Panama Canal. It was a huge and it is very blue. The water was filled up so high on the right side of the canal. We went up the elevator to the fourth floor to see the top view looking down at the large boats. We all saw a professional photographer with props and we all decided to get a group picture. After, we either saw the movie screening or souvenir shopped at the Panama Canal. Later in the day, we were on the road to Santa Fe. We drove 2 hours to Yuka to stop and eat a late lunch. Then after we drove 4 hours to Santa Fe to meet our families. On our way there, we sand together and bonded with each other, it became an enjoyable ride with enjoyable people. Hours later we arrived in Santa Fe and met our great families. After meeting with them, we left with them back to their house. Even though our day was long, we enjoyed every minute of it!
– Elise M. and Josh A.
We woke up for our last day on the island. We began our day with breakfast and a quick overview of the day. We packed up all of our stuff and loaded the boat to begin our journey back to Panama City. After the boat ride back to the mainland, we got in our jeeps and had a long, bumpy ride back home. Finally, we arrived back at the hotel and enjoyed some nice pizza. We got dressed and got our salsa on. We learned some salsa, bachata, and merengue. After our fiesta, we had some down time to listen to music and reflect on our time in Panama so far. We also learned more about the homestay community and found out which family we’d be joining for the next few days. Later in the day, we walked down to Crepes & Waffles and enjoyed millions of crepes and waffles of all sorts of flavors. There were lots of laughs as we bonded over our love for crepes. Then we walked back to the hotel and surprised the birthday twins with a cake and sang them happy birthday. We ended the day with some journaling.
-Natalia G. and Jane C.
Today we did our first service projects with the Kuna people. We helped them paint and clean the community school to get ready for the new school year. After working for a few hours, we went to lunch in one of the classrooms where we also gave some of the donations to the women who run the school. The work we did was really helpful in making us realize how much we take for granted because we have never had to do anything without them. Many of the classrooms had windows with no coverings, so if there were large waves, they could easily crash through and flood the classrooms. We also got to spend time with the local children. We talked to them and played some basketball with them. When we took out the stickers, they were so excited and enjoyed them very much. After, we got back on the boats to head back to the island we were staying on to get ready for snorkeling. For snorkeling, we split up into two groups. Both groups saw sea urchins and fish, the first group saw lobsters and the second group saw a sting ray. After both groups had concluded the snorkeling, we had dinner and discussed the plans for the next day. We finished off the day with a Birthday Bonfire to celebrate two group members 17th birthday and made s’mores!
– Riley M.
As soon as we got out of the airport, you could tell the difference in the culture immediately. Once we settled into Posada 1914, our trip guides, Michelle and Gilberto, took us for a walk along the shore to Casco Viejo. Along the bike and walking paths was community rec centers. Kids played basketball, soccer, ping-pong, and volleyball. Families laid on the grass or got shaved ice (to combat the heat), not unlike a Saturday afternoon in Boston Common.
The old city felt genuine. There were buildings with the original facades intact, but newly renovated apartments. These up and coming buildings were situated next to gutted ones with no roofs. The stark difference was striking. Some places only had a facade and lots of plants growing inside. The church that we went to, San Jose, was so beautiful and breathtaking. Everything was well taken care of, from the church to the houses to the shops and restaurants. The place we went for dinner was really small and cute. The food was so good and unlike anything we might get at home.
- Julia D. and Niamh G.
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