If you don’t know it yet, I’m shipping off to Panama. In two days from now I’ll be in the sky anticipating my next adventure. If you don’t know what I’m doing in Panama, here it is: I’ll be volunteering and teaching English to children K-6th in the Los Santos region.
This opportunity is one I spent a lot of effort obtaining. One application and two interviews later, I earned my place in this program offered by Learning Enterprises.
This experience will be a first of mine. I might travel whenever I can, but this time will have a greater impact on me than previous travels. As someone who is interested in international development and education, the experience of living with my host family, working with the kids, and participating in the community will be one that inspires my future goals.
Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky to have awesome professors to teach me Spanish — the opportunities that opened up for me because of my education is why I want this. Language is a tool and I want to share the power of it.
Can I really tell if I’ll be able to make an impact? No, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to teach and share my language. After learning so much about the industry of volunteering and how some volunteers can actually harm communities, it’s a weird place to be in — can I actually make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. It took me two years of Spanish classes to feel comfortable speaking and it’s still nowhere near perfect, but the little I know has certainly made a difference in my life.
My goal isn’t just to help students improve their English, but to create individual impacts even if they are tiny. I’m sure we all remember a teacher or someone from our childhood who we admired or were influenced positively by, and that’s all I can hope to be.
Before heading of to my host family, I’ll be in Panama City for one week. The first four nights I treated myself to a graduation present: a private room in the La Casa Mona Lisa Hostel. Oh yeah, $20 a night and I’m poppin’.
Seriously though, I’m ready to have a couple days before the official program start to discover the city. Reviews online from the hostel says it’s far from the Center City — clearly these people don’t enjoy walking. Isn’t walking through a place the best way to experience it? At some point I’ll probably break and get a ride somewhere, but when you’re broke like me, a self-walking tour can’t be beat. It means more $$ for food along the way!
As I start this summer journey, I invite you to keep checking out my writing! I have plans to continue blogging and hope to churn out some awesome and inspiring content that tells a story.
Also, follow me on IG @kaylamarieisfire — I post there regularly!