Today was one of the most emotional days for the group, thus far. With our theme, Deconstructing Poverty, we were able to discuss what poverty truly is and how it affects the inhabitants of Panama, the US, and our world.
Our day started with an early wakeup call at 6 am and breakfast at 7 am, which consisted of a delicious breakfast of bananas, oatmeal, and a chicken sandwich. We then completed our mental warm up, where we were reminded of our question, “How can a family or individual escape the cycle?” After, we got on the bus and traveled to Vertedero de Chitre (Chitre Dump) and we were immediately greeted by a swarm of flies and vultures. We were all forced out of our comfort zones. We learned about the way trash is processed in Panama and were able to speak to Don Ramsey, a manager at the dump. Here, he shared the challenges the dump faces, such as a broken tractor, which is making it impossible for them to treat the trash. The dump employs about 20 workers, supplied by the government and freelance workers, who work 13-hour shifts and make $30-50 a day. This fact shocked the group because exposing yourself to trash and potentially toxic pollutants is a risk and the workers deserve more. We also saw families at the Dump, looking through the trash for food and other necessities.
After our insightful conversation, we headed back to Hotel Bali for a much-needed shower and lunch, which consisted of arroz con pollo and maduros. We then split into our groups for the Community Action Project to plan our presentation, which occurred later in the day. We came to the agreement that we will paint a mural inside of the cafeteria of El Cedro, paint the basketball court, build backboards and rims, and install hooks for the volleyball net, at the school. Presenting our design proposal to the principal of the school was nerve-wracking for the groups (especially since most of us tried to do it in Spanish!) but it was successful and the group was proud of their performance.
We then got into our groups for English tutoring prep and headed to English tutoring. As a group, we have seen our students grow in their English in the last 4 days, which allows us to understand the importance of this work. After an hour of English tutoring, we returned to Hotel Bali for dinner, a short reflection, and our nightly meeting.
At our reflection session, a lot of tears were shed and hugs were shared, as we discussed the role of poverty in our lives, the lives of Panamanians, and in the United States. After this, the torch was passed to the next leader of the day.
As the leader of the day, I was tasked with waking everyone up in the morning, handing out meals, passing out hand sanitizer and leading by example. I was also expected to wake up at 5:00 am, allowing me to experience a sense of responsibility. At first, I was extremely nervous and had no idea what to expect but as the day went on, I was able to get the hang of it with the help of my amazing group of Glimpsers. My day as a leader was extremely humbling and I was able to learn more about myself and those around me.