peace corps

My Favorite Moment of the Bee

Hello everyone! It finally happened—my first month not posting my monthly update. I also missed my bi-weekly culture posting. Whomp. I wish I could say that I had a good excuse but, even though I have been busy it really comes down to time management and motivation. I’ve definitely let this blog fall to the wayside a bit as I focus on other projects. I’ll do better ya’ll.tumblr_lwxebvIh1D1r4kfic

July happened! I started it off on an incredible note by attending Pride in Panama City on the first. Around 50 volunteers were there alongside people from the US Embassy. The US ambassador to Panama was there! The parade traveled down the street of Panama City that borders the cinta costera and, if I had to guess, it was probably about a 3 mile stretch. This was my first ever Pride and I didn’t know what to expect—gay marriage is still illegal in Panama and I wasn’t sure if there would be people protesting the parade. However, any fears or doubts I had were completely unfounded. The parade was incredible and unifying. There was dancing, music, and lots of glitter. Some Panamanians in drag rode on the floats as Queens—a role traditionally reserved for only women during celebrations. My host family saw me on TV and when I got home my host mom and I talked about how we wished we could do our makeup half as well as the drag queens in the parade. I’m consistently grateful for my host family’s openness and acceptance of the gay community and their willingness to talk about it. Recently there have been lots of “pro-family” marches in the country protesting the gay-marriage vote (which is happening soon, I believe) so Pride feels more relevant than ever.

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After all that wonderful celebrating, I got very sick. I’m talking sitting on the toilet and throwing up into a bucket simultaneously at 4 am sick. It’s a pretty picture, right? After calling the med office I finally dragged myself to the clinic at 8 am when it opened and thanked my lucky stars that there’s a peace-corps approved clinic in my site. After determining that I had some sort of virus and was very dehydrated I got hooked up to an IV and fed fluids and some medication to help with nausea and vomiting. I slept on the table in the clinic for about an hour and a half before being released with a series of medications and 3 bottles of Pedialyte. I was sick for about 4 days though luckily without the severity of gastrointestinal distress of the first day.

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Valentine did not help with my illness

I had my first completely failed project this month! For a while I had been planning to start a reading hour for children because I had accrued a lot of children’s English books. Plus, parents were stopping me on the street to ask when I was going to do an English course with the kids (That was over the summer parents!). I decided that, rather than host a full course for kids, a reading hour would be a fantastic way to work with the youngest age group and start getting them accustomed to English. To start I decided to go through and label all the books based on their English level—no small task since I had at least 50. Then I started really getting into things. I talked to the librarian about using the library once a week after school, I talked to my principle about the idea, I papered the town with flyers advertising it two weeks in advance, and on the day of I made an announcement to the padres de familia at the school telling them that it was starting that day. I went to the library and waited, no one showed up. Maybe that day wasn’t good, no use getting discouraged. I went the next week and again, no one came. Being angry, confused, or embarrassed would’ve been easy—I could tell the librarian felt bad that no one was coming. Plus, parents kept asking me to work with their kids so why didn’t they bring them? However, it was easier to just accept it. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop trying. I plan to attend a reading hour that the librarian hosts on Friday evenings and talk to the parents that attend. I want to see if maybe the time I chose was bad, and when a better one would be. I want to see if this is a project they’re even interested in for their children. If not, the library will just get a large donation of English books!

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Practicing places and prepositions in my English Course

I’ve had successful projects as well—the third part of my English course is in full swing and I have about 20 participants! I also helped to facilitate activities for the After School English Program in Penonome. I’ve started running and will be participating in the relay portion of a marathon in November; I’ll be running 3.1 miles. This month is bringing on a lot of activities. The number one thing on my agenda is a frisbee club! I want to get one off the ground and start practicing once a week. I’ll be facilitating at two separate peace corps training events as well and then heading to the Comarca again! And, finally for the title of the post, I’ll be hosting the Spelling Bee on Friday! A few kids from my school are competing and we’ve been practicing a lot so I hope they do well. Maybe we’ll bring home the gold!

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Photo Friday! 

Sam came to visit! 

In addition to our sloth search, beach trip, and Panama City adventures, we went to Panama Viejo! Sam got the true experience of riding a diablo rojo there. Panama Viejo is the old Panama City-Henry Morgan attacked it and burned it to the ground leaving ruins that you can explore to this day! 

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Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year

While this song from “Catch me if you Can” doesn’t really match my christmas mood I needed a Christmas song that wasn’t “White Christmas” to title this post. I’m going to be spending my first Christmas away from home this year and I get the feeling that it’s going to be a little more difficult than Thanksgiving was. I’m hoping my host family invites me to do something with them (as I’m sure they will). Lights have been glittering from rooftops in my little Panamanian town and in the city they’re going all out with decorations. While I’m a little sad to celebrate so far from home I’m also excited to experience Christmas in another culture.

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The school year is officially over in Panama so I’m going to have  a lot of free time on my hands in the upcoming months! I just attended a two-day TOT (training of trainers)  in Panama City to prepare us for the new TELLS group that will be coming in in February. I’ll be planning and organizing everything for their tech-week. You might remember my post from several months back about my tech-week but if you don’t–fear not! The new trainees will come to Penonome for a week, live with host families, and work in schools. This gives them the opportunity to really put into practice some of the co-teaching and co-planning skills they’ve acquired throughout training.

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The whole TOT TELLS Crew

The first day of the TOT was my birthday! I’m 23 years old and still amaze people in my community because I’m so young, have a degree, and I’m living away from home. Here it seems to take a little longer for youth to get through college despite the programs being 4 year programs. I think a large factor in that is that here in Panama people start families pretty early. Many people are going to school, working, and taking care of a family at home. It’s a pretty hefty workload! I don’t have any pictures from my birthday but I assure you it was a good time. Plus, my friend Sam came in on the 7th!

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We did a lot of cool things while she was here! Sam also had a lot of opportunities to practice her Spanish–she’s definitely better than I am with the grammar. One of the coolest things about Panama City is that on “ladies night” it’s apparently possible to drink for free if you’re a lady which is pretty sexist but also great for my bank account. We found a bar that had free champagne for Panamanian mother’s day (Dec 8th if you were wondering) and relaxed. We also spent some time exploring the city. We saw the canal and Panama Viejo. Keep your eyes peeled for a Panama Viejo-filled photo friday this week!

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And finally, I’ll leave you with a story and a warning. We all know I love cats. I basically want to be the Snow White of stray cats. Panama City really fuels this desire because a lot of the strays are very friendly. So Sam and I passed by some ruins and saw four stray cats. I know these cats–I’ve petted them before. Naturally we stopped to pet them. As we’re getting ready to walk away  Sam gets shit on by a bird! I tell her that it’s good luck and we go off in search of napkins. Flash forward to later that night. We got dinner and drinks with a friend of mine and were walking around looking for a place to get coffee and we happened to pass by the ruins again. I stopped to pet the cats of course and, right as we’re leaving I got shit on by a bird! Sam and I had a good laugh about it and my friend told me it was good luck which made us laugh even harder. Tl;dr If you pet street cats birds might shit on you.

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“When you’re a jet you’re a jet all the way”

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Photo Friday! 

So if you ever choose to venture out into Panama City you’ll find a lot to do. Right across from the plaza bolivar is a church-la iglesia de San Francisco. It’s got some really beautiful architecture and it’s clearly well kept. It was built late in the 17th century but the original building was destroyed by various fires. They started remodeling it in 1918 and made it into the building you see today! 

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