BLOG! BLOG! BLOOOOG! blog time.

Hey everyone! Sebaddie (Sebastian and Addie) here reporting live from the Piamonte hotel in Las Tablas. This has been quite an eventful day. Starting bright and early (7AM to be precise), we made our way down to what we believed to be a quiet breakfast, only to be confronted with our first obstacle – to roll with the punches we had to eat on the bus, madly rushing out the back door in order to arrive in a timely manner to our first rendez-vous.

In the lovely beach town of Pedasí we were introduced to three welcoming families who invited us into their homes and shared their lives with us. Diniela, Ivette and Dinora spoke to us about their families, customs, communities, and hopes for the future of their town. Pedasí, as an expanding and developing town, is starting to attract more tourists, impacting the lives of residents both positively and negatively. While it is bringing in more economic stability, the influx of tourists has led to a decrease in safety, and a disruption in their close-knit community. While in Pedasí, we were also introduced to José Abrego, the director and founder of TeachPDY, an organization which teaches children to speak English and engage in other activities, such as yoga. After having lunch with José and these families, we returned to the hotel for some much needed relaxation time.

In the afternoon we got the chance to finish discussing what our Community Action Project would be, ultimately deciding upon three ideas: building a trail, reforestation and composting, and holding a workshop to discover the importance of environmental conservation. From this we segued into finalising lesson plans for our first tutoring opportunity! Before we knew it, we were plunged into the challenge of bridging the language barrier and bonding with our Panamanian peers at the IFARHU school. This was an incredible learning experience for us, and hopefully for the students as well.

Back at the hotel we began our nightly meeting, discussing our takeaways from our experiences today. Sadly, Sebaddie was forced to relinquish their role as supreme overlords, but we retired peacefully knowing our kingdom would be safe in the hands of its new rulers, Jessica and Michelle! We moved on to an intense reflection session, where we looked at our own lives in the context of this new environment.

Here in Panama, the people we have met are happy with what they have, their homes, their friends, and their families. This is a stark contrast to the way many people in our culture generally view what they want versus what they need. In the town of Pedasí everyone is friendly and inviting, and the students at IFARHU are open to learning from people they’ve never met. When we return to the United States we know that these are values we will take with us.

While Sebaddie is obviously sad to no longer have control, we are excited to go to sleep! Goodnight!