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These are entries by students from Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX, USA) Roxo students traveling to Panama for Spring Break to work with Wetlands International on the Mangrove Project


In a few days. I will have arrived in Panama to study abroad with TCU’s student-run agency, Roxo.  I can’t wait for the adventure to come!

Going into the trip, I expect to have some difficulties adapting to a new culture.  I have taken five years of Spanish courses, but am concerned about the language barrier. I think the ability to communicate is something that we take for granted today, especially with the growth of new technology, so when this is taken away it will add to the impact of being somewhere new.  This will be interesting as an agency, because our main goal is to communicate a message for our client. I know we can overcome this obstacle with help from translators, and I think this might make our campaign stronger because we have the capabilities to express ideas in multiple languages. 

I also expect there to be different ideologies and cultural norms.  We have spent time learning about the country’s history, but I feel this is something we will learn best through immersion.  Our group will need to be respectful of others’ lifestyles while trying to understand where Panamanians are coming from.  I know this trip will be an eye-opening and humbling experience. The opportunity to learn about a foreign culture and gain a new perspective is what I am most looking forward to during this trip.

Working with Wetlands International in the province of Chiriquí will also be an enriching experience.  As a former account executive on the project, I have a pretty good understanding of how mangroves are important towards the protection of the environment.  I have an idea about how the company operates and what their primary goals are. At the same time, it’s hard to fully grasp an understanding of this type of work through Skype calls and research on the Internet.  I want to learn more about wetlands and how people can get involved with conservation efforts.  I’d also like to see how people interact with their environment and what type of impact mangroves have on their lives.  For example, how aware are residents of the importance of mangroves?  Do citizens know what steps are being taken to protect them?  Do Panamanians care?  These types of questions are qualitative and might best be understood by observation and work in the field.  Interviews with the Mayor and local students will be very insightful.

I know I will be blown away by the beauty of the country and its people. Panama has such a vast variety of landscapes to offer, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to explore them.  I’m looking forward to being by the beach, but also hiking through rainforests and walking through the modernized city.  I know this trip will be a ton of fun, but will also be a great learning experience and opportunity to help an incredible NGO by working with them on site.