Today leading aid and development day was an insightful experience. We learned about how the public schools in rural Panama are under funded and under staffed and over worked. We visited a school named “El Cedro” located in Cedro Arriba community. The school looked worn down, had cheap desks, and not many school supplies. We talked to the staff of the school and asked them about improvements they wished to have within the school such as more technology and sports equipment for the children. The staff expressed their concern for students lacking opportunities to practice English with native English speakers.

As a group we discussed strategies to improve enrollment and the school environment for the children and the community. Lastly we came to a final decision on our community action project.

The Community Action Project that we all agreed upon is the renovation of the playground space. The staff mentioned that they did not have a basketball court, nor a secure way to place their volleyball net. The staff also mentioned that the lunchroom for the students needed wall art to help the kids visualize basic English and Spanish vocabulary. These were expressed as their main challenges. Some of the other projects  that we considered were: improving in the garden, fixing their chicken coop, and re-painting the school values signs.

As a group we have limited time to meet the needs of the school, the students, and staff. We are given only 16 hours to complete our project. We have a budget of $376 so far and only 23 people including Don Carlos who is the English teacher. Don Carlos often covers for teachers who focus on other subjects.

My (Natalia) experience as being Leader of the Day was fun, yet stressful. Everyone was cooperative and helped make the day go by smoothly. Some of the things we did as Leader of the Day included making sure everyone stuck to the schedule and remained happy and healthy.

My (Rosa) experience as Lider del Dia was very stressful yet very exciting. At first I was very shy and mostly nervous because we are a large group of students and it’s very difficult to keep teenagers on track but to my surprise everyone was always staying on track and making things easier for my partner and I. I am very thankful for this experience because it helped me take charge of everyone’s day and it helped me grow as a leader. I would like to thank everyone today for making this a special day.

BIG LOVE to all the parents for having such bright and amazing children.

Hi mom and dad, this is Rosa. I miss you guys very much and can’t wait to see you all soon. I am enjoying this experience very much and I am thankful for this opportunity. Abril and Canelo I miss you guys dearly and I love you both very much. Also, happy early 1st birthday Canelo!