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
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
Buenas Dias Amigos!
We hope you all are having a wonderful day so far! Sunday was a day full of rest, fun, and adventure. For some of us it began by attending mass at the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. The beautiful church adds to the strong sense of community in the town of Chitre. After church, many of us participated in the San Juan Bautista Festival. The festival was a grand celebration; even Miss Chitre and the Mayor of Chitre made an appearance. Our surroundings truly became breath taking with many dressed in traditional clothing that displayed extravagant colors. These dresses were beautiful! Also, there were others, who were dressed in costumes that portrayed the spirits that San Juan protects against and drives away. Some of these individuals were on top of the several stunning floats depicting the true artistic nature of the people of Chitre. Everyone who attended was greeted by familiar and new faces that took pride in sharing their culture. We even ran into the owner of the farm, Milton, from yesterday’s activities who was glad to see us enjoying ourselves. Many of us were dancing and enjoying all the fun with friendly people of Chitre. Some people ran toward us, gleaming with happiness, while they asked us where we were from! Of course, we are recognized as foreigners, however we were still greeted with respect and smiles. While some of us were enjoying the parade and the festivities, others stayed at the hotel. At the hotel, we could work on homework, go swimming in the beautiful pool, as well as just relax and catch up on some sleep. It’s hard to believe that already over a week has gone by! Each day has been full of wonderful surprises and great learning opportunities. We look forward to the second half of our trip!
Alleyah Sealy & Catherine Hurtado
Photos taken by: Alleyah Sealy