June 15, 2019. Like many of us, I have looked forward to this day before I even embarked on this trip to Panama. Today marked our first day of our Community Action Project (CAP). When we woke up at 7:00 a.m., we came out of my room with looks of excitement and a newfound energy. After eating a hearty breakfast at Café Caney, we headed out to Escuela Paris, the school that we partnered with for our CAP project. There is one word in my previous sentence that I really want to emphasize: partnered. Before going on this trip, I had this mindset that I was going to go to Chitré, Panama to help out the people like it was a charity event. However, throughout this trip, especially yesterday night, I came to the realization that people here don’t need my charity. They need solidarity. As mentioned in our quote of our day by Eduardo Galeano, “Charity is humiliating because it is exercised vertically and from above; solidarity is horizontal and implies mutual respect.” From this trip, I learned that when we set out to help out someone, we have to make sure that help is actually wanted. We can’t just anticipate the needs of others because that might not be something that they truly desired.
As we scrapped down the old paint of Escuela Paris and sanded it down for a repaint, we all worked toward one common goal, a goal that the principal of this school also stood behind: to beautify the school so that the parents in the community would be more willing to send their kids to it. After staying at the school for more than seven hours, we all left Paris today feeling tired, but proud. Today, we made our first steps towards leaving our mark on the community. June 15, 2019 will forever be a day that we will all remember for years to come.
Today, we started working on our CAP project, and although everyone knew it was going to be difficult, no one was prepared for the amount of work that came with the project. We started off by scraping all the walls on the school and sanding it down, which took a lot longer than I initially thought. After lunch, we started to wipe down and paint the base coat on all the walls and the pillars. We had planned on finishing at 4:00 PM, but unfortunately, almost nothing goes as planned. Due to the problems that arose from poor scraping, painting went much rougher than we would have wanted. We eventually got everything done and left at 4:30 PM. Because the difficulty took us all by surprise, I was expecting a lot of people to be slacking off or unwilling to work. However, everyone was fired up and the morale was high, no matter what happened. I was honestly so impressed by everyone’s desire to keep going, even when it seemed like adrenaline was the only thing keeping them up. Everyone pushed past their limits today, and I don’t believe I’ll ever see such a hardworking group again.
When we got back to the bus, the exhaustion hit me all at once. I thought my legs had turned into bricks for a solid minute. Everyone else was also mentally and physically exhausted, and most of them slept on the ride back to the hotel. It was during this ride when I truly realized just how much we had done. I never thought I had it in me to will myself to do so much work and to keep the energy up at all times. This project really brought the group closer together, and many people got shout-outs during the Nightly Meeting for helping another person or making another person happy. The bonding session helped to keep the group’s spirits high, and ready for the next CAP day. I really do believe that all the Glimpsers are becoming better people together, and we all do our best when motivating one another. It’s amazing what a small group of people can do when they’re constantly there for each other. This is going to be the aspect of the Global Glimpse family that I will miss the most when this trip is over. It’s truly an honor to experience this here with all these amazing people.
Link to more photos here.