Our epic journey in Panama came to an end today as we made our trip back home to the United States of America. We started our morning off bright and early, loaded up the bus, and drove to the airport. During our drive, we sang, laughed and simply enjoyed each other’s company. Once we arrived at the airport our trip was smooth sailing all the way home.
Studying abroad in Panama was an experience of a lifetime. Being able to immerse ourselves in the culture and understand nursing from a different perspective is something we will always cherish. Although we were sad our trip came to an end we were equally thankful to get back home to our friends and family. We have become the best of friends so it was not a surprise that we shared many hugs and shed a few tears as we went our separate ways home.
– Carissa Abbott & Erin Morris
¡Buenas! Today we woke up in Panama City and had one final opportunity to embrace the uniqueness of the rich Panamanian culture.
During our bus ride, we were fortunate enough to receive an overview of the Emberá people through the lens of our expert tour guide, Manuel.
First, we were guided to the canoes that would take us to Emberá village to learn interesting facts about their tribe from the village leader. At the village, we were welcomed by the people with an elaborate song played by their handcrafted instruments.
Shortly after the presentation we were invited to partake in a delicious traditional meal which was followed by an opportunity to admire and purchase handmade crafts.
Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better we were honored to observe a traditional dance they had prepared for us and even invited us to participate!
We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends at the Emberá village but we all agreed this was an amazing ending to our unforgettable experience in Panama!
This morning, we sadly said goodbye to Chitre, and embarked on the four-hour journey back to Panama City. After dropping off our luggage, we were greeted with a delicious lunch.
Afterwards, we rode to a street called Las Bovedas, which is located in Casco Viejo. Though we previously had visited this area, we asked to return so we could buy more beautiful, hand-made Panamanian art pieces and trinkets.
Upon returning to the hotel, we walked down the street to La Plaza, which was similar to an outdoor food court. It also had little shops where coffee, books, and art could be purchased.
At seven o’clock in the evening, we went to the restaurant La Taberna, which is located next to the hotel, to eat dinner as a family. There were many laughs and stories shared as we tried not to think about how this was one of our last nights here in Panama. We are excited to be able to experience the Embera Village tomorrow as our final adventure.
-Samara Schwartz & Taylor Crum
For our very last clinical day here in Chitré, we visited Escuela Los Remedios in Ocú, a small town approximately an hour away from Chitré. Upon arriving, we were greeted by the students lined up to greet us with a sweet song. We were surprised to find a small school with only 10 students. However, we could see so much dedication and love from the teachers. Next to the classroom and lunch area, they have a beautiful organic garden that grows everything from tomatoes to papayas, peppers, corn, carrots, cucumbers, and squash to feed the students. According to the teachers, there are only 30 homes in this community, and this can be seen in the eco-map next to the front door of the school. This drawn map shows every home in the area, as well as the school and church. On top of this, the school has won a national contest for best school two years in a row. This school proves that, no matter how small it may be, it can succeed with hard work and determination.
Each of the three clinical groups prepared and presented a brief lesson about the importance of hand washing, oral hygiene, and nutrition. The groups sang songs, gave out small gifts, and colored with the students during these lessons. The students were attentive and excited to have us at their school. The teacher had told us that despite their school’s small size, their hearts were large. We found that to be extraordinarily true!
As we returned to the hotel to pack and prepare to leave Chitré tomorrow, the bitter-sweetness of this day really sunk in. We may be leaving tomorrow, but we will carry the many learning experiences and connections we have made with us always. We are truly grateful to everyone who had a hand in this unforgettable opportunity!
-Julie de Leon and Jessica Korray
We were split up into two groups today. Llano Bonito went to a local primary school and gave flu and varicella vaccines to about 40 second graders. Most of the kids took it like champs and were “muy valiente” (very brave).
La Arena went door-to-door again to give more flu vaccinations to the community. No rain today thankfully! It’s so great to see how welcoming everyone is and easy going they are about having a group full of students at their doorstep ready to vaccinate. It’s fun to see how the nurses here don’t let anyone walk by without checking to see if they are up-to-date on their flu vaccine. We were vaccinating people at bus stops, and even stopping traffic to give vaccines to people in their car. Definitely an experience we won’t be forgetting!
Later in the evening we had a surprise party and celebrated Carissa’s birthday with cake, balloons, music and dancing. The staff at the hotel was wonderful and they helped us decorate the dining room for the party. Everyone had a great time and it was amazing that we actually managed to keep everything a surprise. This was a great way to end another awesome day in Chitre! Can’t believe tomorrow is our last day of clinicals!
-Michelle Garcia & Tikisha McRae
Today was our last day at the clinics, and it was an amazing experience. Throughout clinicals, we administered vaccines, observe pap smears, do newborn evaluations, and check manual blood pressures. At the end of our clinical day, the Panamanian nursing students surprised us with some delicious finger foods and kind words. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to receive the full Panamanian experience here. After clinical, we made another stop at the Artisan Village, where we were able to pick up hand painted cups that we had previously ordered a few days before. We were once again able to appreciate the beautiful artwork that this culture has to offer. Once arriving to the hotel, we presented our windshield survey, consisting of us conducting a visual survey of our surroundings of the strengths and weaknesses of the community. This showed us the importance of being able to work as a team, and allowed us to appreciate the things that we have become accustomed to back home.
~ Bianca Labady and Julissa Cambero
Today we spent our day at the University of Panama (UP)! We were able to meet the director of the University, Dr. Collado. He was so welcoming and kind as he shared how ecstatic he was to have us working alongside his nursing students in Chitre. Honestly, we are so thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this partnership, where we are able learn more together than we ever could on our own.
We broke up into our 3 different clinical groups to listen to the Panamanian students’ presentations regarding their case studies on families in the community. The Panamanian students had been working closely with these families for an entire semester and we had the privilege of visiting these homes last week. The presentations, which encompassed the biological, psychological, and socioeconomic features of each family, so clearly demonstrated the close relationship these students had developed with each family. The trust that members of this community have in their local nurses is amazing, and is something we hope to strive to earn in our own future practices.
After listening to the Panamanian students present their case studies, our group reunited to discuss the results of the teachings we presented in our clinics last week. Overall, they each went so well! Some of the nursing students from UP joined and provided additional feedback, and once again we benefited greatly from their collaboration and input.
We finished off the day with another trip to the neighboring hotel for their delicious tres leches cake and are ready for another day at the clinic tomorrow!
– Tiffany Timmons and Olivia Taylor