This blog comes to you from a very tired but very proud Program Coordinator, Nathan.

The last couple of days have been busy busy—maybe the opposite of what you’d expect from a Fun Day and a Free Day. But, with so many “last things to do” before leaving Las Tablas tomorrow, we found time escaping us.

Thursday was our much-needed Free Day—after three intense working days in Bajo Corral (with the successful completion of our Community Action Project!), students needed some extra sleep, extra free time, and extra ice cream. Not only that, students wanted to visit some of the contacts and places around Las Tablas that truly inspired them!

About 10 of our students used their Thursday morning to return to NutreHogar, the temporary orphanage that re-nourishes babies from communities which lack access to necessary supplies/food/medicines/etc. I am so proud that our students went back to not only give the nannies there a rest, but to care for the kids who live for months at a time in a place other than home.

Thursday afternoon saw students looking for deals in thrift stores, finding places to nap, hitting “Burguer House” (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) for amazing food, and some self-care stops at nail salons and the barberia. P.S., some of us have new haircuts!

Thursday night also concluded our English tutoring sessions at the local high school IFARHU. The regional director even showed up to see the classes for himself! And the students did NOT disappoint! I personally have not seen our Panamanian teens this animated, excited, or participatory all summer. This delegation of students has done a wonderful job of instilling confidence into their fellow peers to have fun in English, and it’s showing!

Today, Friday, was our highly anticipated Fun Day. At 10am we packed into the bus and headed to local beach Playa Uverito, where we played in the ocean and pool all day. For some, it was their first time swimming in the ocean! We are sunburned and content.

We also began our transition out of Las Tablas with the first part of our Trip Reflection seminar this evening, where we asked students to create journey maps of their two weeks in town. There were tears, laughs, vulnerable moments, and a connectedness that made you happy to be there.

I think I can speak for Arleen, our Panamanian coordinator, and I when I say that your children have excelled in the areas we’ve pushed them. They’ve risen to the occasion to become teachers, to become leaders of their peers, to interact with strangers in a foreign language, to embrace a community from a different culture, and to lose themselves in Panama.

They’ve uncovered skills and qualities within themselves which they’ve probably always had, but which have been illuminated and enhanced in this unique environment.

Tomorrow we will visit the Panama Canal and finish our evening with part two of our Trip Reflection.

Enjoy a few photos from the last two days!