Friday, April 18, 2014

Friends and THE METRO

After the visit to Machuca, I had another eventful weekend at Convivencia. I've blogged about this before because it typically takes place once a month. But just for a reminder, it's an event for a certain grade of the school for an entire day. This past Saturday, many of the professors took the entire 7th grade to a school in Chorrera, an area about 45 minutes outside of the city. In Chorrera we had Convivencia with a theme that focused on the dynamic of groups and group work. Throughout the day, we had lots of fun in small groups where we explored this theme, had discussions, played games, and created skits. The kids always have a lot of fun at Convivencia, and it's a fun time to get to know our students better outside of the classroom setting. I don't have pictures of this event because I have failed at photography, but luckily we have Convivencia again in 2 weeks, so I'll take some then!

Oh yeah, we also had a visit from two fellow YASCers Becky Gleason and Claire Harkey, as well as Claire's friend and roommate Rosella. Needless to say we had lots of fun hanging out and catching up with each other on our placements and our past few months!

We were also able to attend a Maundy Thursday service together, which was a really nice time to spend together and be reminded of the importance of this week. Props go out to Rosella for being the master photographer, so here are some photos!

At the Maundy Thursday service with a special sermon from the bishop of Panama himself!

Maundy Thursday with these cuties!
In other news, school is still going really well! We just finished midterms, so my life will consist of grading tests on tests on tests. In even more important news, on April 5th, Panama City opened the very  first and only metro in Central America. How cool is that?? For the past 2 weeks, everyone has been obsessing over and admiring the new metro, including myself. It makes traveling so much easier it's unreal. Also, from now until further notice, the president has decided to make the metro free until he decides on an official rate.

The new metro! The station looks like it's from outer space but that's totally fine with me
Thanks for reading, as always!

The insane month of April

Oh gosh, it happened again. I apologize for blog delay again, but this will be a pretty eventful one! I'm splitting it in two so that you don't die reading a gigantic blog post since lots of things have happened recently!

I'll start with this super cute youth group that visited a few weeks ago:

My friend Cleide, on the left, was hosting this group for a week in Panama City. They were interested in seeing a local Panamanian school, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to come visit St. Christopher's where I teach to interact and just hang out with my students. They are all in high school, and since I teach high school, they thought it would be a cool opportunity for them to meet, talk about their lives and their faith, and hopefully make some new friends and connections! It was really fun and my students were super excited to meet people their age but also to skip a day of normal class. Here are a few more pictures!

My 10th grade students

A group of 11th grade boys I taught last year

My 10th grade girls

Naturally they loved taking selfies together
The next weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the community of Machuca in Penonomé, Panama. The community is a place where a program called PROMESA is present. PROMESA is a program in the Episcopal Church of Panama that works with themes of self-sustainable agriculture, gender, and many others that help and promote the growth of people living in certain communities. In Machuca, they are working on self-sustainable agriculture with several local farmers.

I traveled with a group of young adults from the Episcopal Church of Panama in order to learn more about what PROMESA is doing in the community of Machuca, and we also helped to bring donations of clothing and footwear. 

When we arrived, we were immediately split into two groups under two mentors and local farmers who showed us the kind of work they do in the community. My group was able to watch and learn about the work of a local woman who showed us what kind of work she does every single day. Here are some pictures. Also, I clearly cannot take credit for the pictures that say "PTY" in the corner. Two young adults that work for the Episocopal Church took these amazing photos, which is great considering I've given up on my photography:

Learning about how to harvest Yucca

All of the plants we learned about: bananas, onions, yucca, sugar cane, and tomatoes

Teaching how to uproot Yucca

A device to help get the juice out of sugar cane

In the front yard of one of the locals! So beautiful
While she taught us about her work, she also talked about daily life as well as daily struggles. She explained that community has several health problems and has a hard time getting regular health checkups. She also told us about the lack of water. In fact, during our visit there was no running water. Obviously the locals have experience with this, so there was no problem! We just had to get creative and even got some water from a river a few minutes away.

All this being said, this community is also very connected and supportive of one another. They are always willing to help when a helping hand is needed, and very generous and loving in general. The woman who we spent the afternoon explained several times that no matter what the circumstances are, the people are generally very happy and simple people. What really hit home for me was when she said, "I may have very little money, but I do have a lot of friends". 

In the afternoon as well as the next day, the Episcopal group also led a form of a bible study which reminded me a lot of Vacation Bible School. The local kids came for a couple of hours to learn, play games, and spend time together. I helped lead a little, but I mainly got to watch our friends lead this, which was really fun to see!

Discussing strategy for one of the games (I have an issue with getting sunburned no matter how much sunscreen I wear)

Showing off her artwork

Such a cutie! All ages were able to participate

Having some fun with games
The whole group!

We also got to learn how to make the bracelets that many of the women make by hand that they sell. So much harder than it looks!
What a fun group!
The team of young adults
This experience was honestly something I never expected to learn so much from. It is such a cool program that the Episcopal Church of Panama has.