One of the many great things about peace corps is the volunteer community. My friend Roxana asked me to come out and help facilitate a leadership camp (soy joven, soy líder) in her community in Veraguas. I was able to go for the latter half of the camp which meant that I got to help with the last few days and see all of the participants graduate! We had youth from ages 12 and up learning about leadership and activism. Today they graduated and presented ideas and action plans for activities they’re actually going to do to make their communities better. The group we worked with was really outstanding and I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to help them grow as leaders!
I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a wide range of age groups here in Panama. I started my kids English course and, later that day, I gave a speech at the university of Panama on “How literature makes you a better global citizen.” And, in true Peace corps fashion, everything went awry. My computer couldn’t connect to the projector; no problem, let’s use Yuliana’s computer. Hers won’t play my video in PowerPoint. Okay, will it play it outside of PowerPoint? It will! We’re ready to go! Andddd then the power went out. But you can’t let little things like that stop you when you have have a presentation to give! I looked up the transcript of the video I wanted to show and gave my presentation in the dark. At the end, right as Yuliana handed me a certificate for my presentation, the power came back on. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there so if you find it let me know!
For eight beautiful days I was back in the USA! Seeing friends and family was so amazing and I felt waves of emotions that I wasn’t totally prepared for. I hugged my parents for such a long time at the airport. Strangely enough I was more unplugged at home than I usually am here in Panama, because I didn’t put any roaming data on my phone.
I caught up with so many people while being home but I never felt too rushed. I usually had lunch plans with someone and then something scheduled in the evening, which worked out well. It gave me time in the morning and late afternoon to be alone or just relax with people–if I wanted to. I got to get all dolled up to go out swing dancing; and then realized just how much I actually missed dancing.
I also got a chance to hang out with my grandfather some. He’s pretty sick, with cancer, so I’m glad I got a chance to see and spend time with him. I keep telling him I’m coming home in May for a wedding, so I hope that helps keep his spirits up.
It surprised me that it was so easy to integrate back into my life in the US. Because of that it was a little hard to come back to Panama-luckily I have one of my best friends in the world here with me right now. It’s definitely made the transition back easier. Stay tuned next Friday for photos of that trip.
Sometimes you skip out on one experience and you gain another. The other week I was supposed to go to chiriqui with my friend Odiris for the day but I wasn’t feeling well. I bailed on her at the last minute (the last minute being 10 pm when she was going to pick me up at midnight) and went back to sleep. I woke up at 7 am to my host sister frantically texting me to go to her house because Cory (the very pregnant dog) was having pains. I throw on clothes and ran to my host families house where I got to see a litter of puppies be born.
Cory had 6 puppies but unfortunately two were stillborn. Since then one of the puppies (my favorite and the dark one in the picture above so I’m very sad about it) has died. I’ve been going over every day to see the puppies and watch them grow. Seeing them be born was amazing! I’d never seen anything be born before! It also solidified the fact that I could never be a vet.
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!
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!