Photo Friday! 

Today’s photo Friday tells a story. It’s a story of love and loss. A story of a community coming together to triumph over adversity. It’s the story of this water bottle and set of keys. 

Our story begins on a regular Wednesday evening. I decided to drop by my host families house and chat for a bit. Turns out they were getting ready to head to penonome and I decided to tag along so I could finally buy the set of drawers I’d been meaning to get. Fast forward to later that evening. My host sister Linda and I are on the bus with my set of drawers sprawled across our laps. We get to our stop, shift the drawers out onto the street, pay our fare, and start to head home. At that point I realize I DON’T HAVE MY WATERBOTTLE. Not only that but all of my house keys were attached to it. I knew I left it on the bus and after a quick explanation to Linda I took off running to try to catch the bus at the bus stop. No such luck.

A group of women asked me if I was waiting for a bus and I explained my situation to them. They told me the bus probably wouldn’t be coming back but they walked me to the park and pointed out a house I could go to to try to get a hold of the bus driver. Thanking them, I went there. I explained my situation to the family and they tried to call the bus driver they thought it was (he had a tv on his bus, the letters were blue, no I didn’t get his name) but he didn’t have cell phone service. I asked if they could pass the word along to the bus drivers to leave it at the bus stop so I could go by and pick it up the next day and they agreed. I dragged myself to my host families house to pick up spare keys and the drawers that Linda had kindly taken back with her to allow me to run. My host family fed me dinner and sympathized with my situation. Then my host dad shouted for me to come out front. The family I had talked to had managed to get a hold of the bus driver and he delivered my water bottle to them. They in turn drove down to my host families house to drop it off to me. I couldn’t even begin to properly express my thanks in Spanish I was so happy!! It’s so nice to know that people are looking out for me and are willing to do nice and genuine things to help people out. I’m so lucky to be where I am. 


6 month review

I’ve officially made it 6 months in another country! While I’m not technically 6 months into service (service officially starts after training) this still feels like a really big milestone. This is the longest I have ever gone without seeing family and friends in person. Sure I lived away from home while at college but home was 20 minutes away and I could make a quick pit-stop there if I felt like it. I want to take some time to talk about family-if you’re interested please read on! 

Let’s start this post where it all began-my parents and my brother! Or, in more scientific terms, my biological family. These are the people that raised me-the people I grew up with. That’s not even counting the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My dad is one of seven so I’ve got a large biological famliy that’s growing all the time. My biological family was and is so important to me. I think that being away has made me realize how truly amazing they are and how much I miss them. I never thought I’d be one for homesickness but it hits hard for time to time. 

Keeping in touch with them has luckily been fairly easy. My grandparents on my moms side have figured out skype so we talk weekly. One of the most difficult things about being away is hearing how my grandfather feels. He has cancer and always feels tired or sick. On the other hand I hear some things that I never would’ve imagined-my grandmother threw a surprise anniversary party for my parents and apparently she dance and sang a little! If anyone has video please send it to me. My parents and brother all use whatsapp and I’ve contacted other family through letters and Facebook. It’s nice to stay in the loop. 

My parents (and family) are a big part of the reason I wanted to join peace corps. They enjoy traveling-when my dad was 17 he enlisted in the Navy and traveled a lot(mostly in a submarine but it still counts). They took me and my brother on a lot of trips, they paid for me to go to Europe while I was still in high school, and they always told me how important it was to learn Spanish. I recall a dinner with them while I was in college where my dad, seemingly out of nowhere asked if I had ever considered peace corps. I think my mom wanted to kill him but it was something I had thought about and it was nice to know it was something he could see me doing. My extended family mostly lives very close. We’re all practically in the same zip code. I love my family but I also wanted to break that mold. I want to see a little more than Maryland while I’m young and able to travel more easily. That being said I’ll be very happy to be back in a few years and catch up on everyone’s lives. 

Then there’s my brother. We’re very different but we have a lot of things in common. I’ve never been an only child and I prefer it that way. Growing up with a twin assured that I always had someone in my corner. My brother is one of the best people I know. He’s creative, funny, and very driven. He’s also probably the smartest person I know. Not only that but he’s open and accepting- any issue I’m having I know I can come to him and he’ll listen even if he can’t quite understand the problem. 

After I lived with my biological family I lived with my chosen family. Zac and Will, I hope you both know how much I love you. My “chosen family” are the two people I spent my college years with. First we lived on campus and then we got our own apartment where we lived for two years. They were there for so much of my growth and development and they helped to form the person I am today in so many ways. Had I not met them I’m not sure I would be considering a degree in public policy after peace corps. Not only did they help me find myself, they helped me have fun! We were the best roommate trio and I will physically fight anyone that tries to disagree. We grocery shopped together, cuddled on our couch, drank a lot of wine, and occasionally slept in the same bed because that’s what friends are for. 

I can still remember the days spent in room 1411 where Will and I would watch psych and eat a ton of Chinese food. I remember the nights where the 3 of us would go to Paws at 11 o’clock to bitch about our lives. I remember when Zac and I tried (and failed) at making an herb garden. I especially remember when we got matching tattoos. 

I have my ballroom family too. And my friends (admittedly mostly from ballroom) that have grown with me and helped me grow into myself. Know that I am thinking about all of you in this post. If I wanted to write about each person that affected my life it would be a never-ending story. For times sake I’m focusing on the families I have lived with. But I love you all ❤️.

Finally I have my host family. I am so thankful to them for fully opening their hearts and home to me. From day one in my community I have felt like a part of this family. They look after me the way my own family would. I can’t even count how many times they’ve told me not to open my door to strangers since I moved out. The amount of love I’ve received from them has been really amazing. And now I feel what it’s like to have a younger sister! She makes my world so much brighter and she always cheers me up. It’s interesting to watch someone grow through their teenage years and I see a lot of me as a teenager in her. It never ceases to amaze me how accepted I feel in this family and I know I’ll keep in touch with them as the years roll on. 

So to all of my family, thank you. I love you all ❤️


Photo Friday! 

So did you think Costa Rica was the only place to see really cool waterfalls in Central America? Well think again.

Las yaya’s is a park about an hour out from my site with some amazing waterfalls and swimming holes. You pay a dollar to get in ($2 if you’re not Panamanian and we’re totally Panamanian) and it’s beautiful! There is a lot of stair climbing involved but it’s totally worth it to see the falls. I just wish it had been a little sunnier! 

just ignore the fact that my eyes are closed

all smiles in the ice water


Step one 

“I may be facing the impossible, I may be chasing after miracles, and there may be the steepest mountain to overcome, but this is step one” 

For anyone who has seen “Kinky Boots” this song should be pretty familiar. 

I’ve almost hit 6 months in country! Counting down till August 24th when I can celebrate ~officially~. This is what the first 6 months of being in peace corps looks like:

  • First 10 weeks: training. 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Lots of mandated trips on Saturdays.
  • Head to your site!
  • Spend 3 months observing and preparing your school and community analysis to present to your school, community, counterparts, and boss. 

Basically I’ve been doing a lot of classroom observation but now that period is over and I can start doing things in the class with my counterpart teachers! 

Since I last posted an update on my life some things have happened. Some of those things were great! Others-not so much. Let’s start with the less positive. My computer stopped charging. Fingers crossed that it’s just the charger because my amazing parents are sending me a new one. If it’s the battery then it looks like I’ll be buying a new computer. If that’s the case I’ve lost a ton of my photos from Panama because I was backing all my phone pictures up there. Moving on to good things! I moved into my new house! 

This was not the place I was planning to live in originally but it’s a better size and closer to my host family. Unfortunately it only has a latrine right now but I’ve been told that they’ll be putting a toilet inside as soon as they get a septic tank! I’m looking forward to that day. I also have a ton of fruit growing in my backyard! There are plantain trees, orange trees, pineapple plants, a tomato plant, and a palm tree that I’m hoping gives me coconuts. I’ll hopefully be starting a garden out back too. ​

​On Thursday I presented my school and community needs analysis to my counterparts, my boss, and a representative from the ministry of education who was nice enough to take time out of her crazy schedule to come see it. It went pretty well! The whole thing was in Spanish and I think people are pretty on board with all of my project ideas which is exciting. As my boss pointed out I’ll have to be careful not to wear myself too thin. 

We’ve had a couple of celebrations in the school lately too. All of the students decorated the school for a competition by an organization called FANLYC. They work with the families of children with leukemia and other cancers. Unfortunately I don’t have any digital photos of the event-my mom sent me a care package that included my instax camera and my students were OBSSESSED. They absolutely loved seeing the pictures develop and I heard many cries of “teacher saca un foto de yo!” throughout  the day. 

like christmas in july!

We also celebrated a local baseball team winning some competition in the US! I’ve tried to find info about or photos of the game online but haven’t had any luck. The team paraded through the streets on a firetruck and the school band played music for them. In Panama marching bands are incredibly popular and it’s kind of rare for an elementary school to have a band so my school is very proud of it. The kids got out of school for a few hours to see all of the parade! ​

I got to spend a few days in Panama City to get some cavities filled and while I was there my computer decided it didn’t want to work anymore. Fingers crossed that it’s the charger because my parents are sending me a new one (thanks mom and dad!). Now I get to spend some time adjusting to living on my own for the first time-something that surprises a lot of people here. It’s very unusual for anyone in Panama to live alone and it’s especially strange for a young woman to be doing it. I think I’m doing all right though. I made and hung my own curtain so I think I’m adulting fairly well.  Last but certainly not least; I adopted kittens(sorry mom and dad!).They still need names so I’m open to suggestions. The one with more black fur is a girl and the other is a boy! 


Photo Friday! 

So remember when you were a kid birthday parties were kind of the best thing ever? Turns out kids parties are the GREATEST in Panama. The parents tend to go all out to celebrate and they make incredible food to feed everybody (food is not limited to kids parties but it just feels more indulgent when you’re celebrating a niño). 

One of my many host cousins turned one and had a huge jungle themed celebration  full of music from the Spanish version of the lion king and jungle decor. I got to hangout with my family and some of my students for an evening and just enjoy myself. 

musical chairs got intense

the birthday boy

I have never looked more normal


Photo Friday! 

So turns out there’s a lovely waterfall just 15 minutes from my site! I went with my community guide Odiris and some of her friends to go check it out. As you can see it’s totally beautiful and you can easily climb up the rock face with 0 rock climbing experience since it’s mostly like stairs. The path to get to it is interesting-you pass through a gentleman a property (and ask him nicely if you can do so), hike past an abandoned house, then barefoot scramble across a pretty narrow path for maybe a half mile to get to this nice secluded spot!