"Through the study abroad program, I was able to see and learn much of the country... We learned about much of the political issues past and present facing the country and were able to visit the Presidential Palace. Through friends I made in Panama, I was invited as a guest of the Governess to attend the inauguration of the Cinta Costera Park, where I met Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli!"
"My favorite part of the trip was the visit to the orphanage, located in the outskirts of the city. I had the opportunity to purchase and donate school supplies to two children in the orphanage. Seeing the children light up and receiving hugs and handshakes from them was very touching, and having an impromptu recess afterwards was even better."
"I was able to submerge myself in an incredible culture and learn countless amounts of information about the history, language, biodiversity, lifestyle, and traditions of Panama. This travel abroad experience has inspired me in so many ways and I am so grateful, I have made memories and friends that will last a lifetime."
"I have learned so much about this country in the past few weeks; we have studied the government, the unique Panamanian culture, and my Spanish has improved tremendously."
"This is my first trip outside of the country and it definitely has been a learning experience; not only about the country, but about myself as well. I have finally been exposed to life outside of the United States, which has also helped me to see my own country more fully in ways that I couldn't before because it was all I have ever experienced."
"Being a Spanish major, this trip has given me some insight on whether or not I want to continue on my path. I have discovered that not only do I want to continue studying the language; I eventually want to live in a Latin American country. I have fallen in love with the culture and people: they are the nicest people I have encountered outside of my old Kentucky home. The diversity here is stunning and there is hardly anything reminiscent of racism."
"During the trip, I was able to focus on witnessing the daily lives of the Panamanians while taking a back seat to the demands of my own schedule. I truly tried to work on my "North American" patience (or lack thereof). By the end of the trip, I noticed myself being more open to just going with the flow and not feeling like I needed to rush. I stopped glorifying 'busy' and focused on living in the present. The opportunity to return to Panama for a second time allowed me to expand my friendships and abundance of memories I had collected prior. I was able to return to Panama with friendships I had created during my first trip. This allowed me to experience an even more authentic experience of Panama since I had many connections to locals who invited me along on their adventures and to their own homes."
"Panama has been a truly enriching experience on both personal and academic levels. Both the classes and the immersion in the culture have greatly enhanced my understanding of Panama's history and its people, as well as its socio-economic, political, and cultural aspects. I enjoyed every part of the trip and it became evident from the very beginning how much thought and care had been invested in its planning."
"We were able to see areas that were in extreme poverty and in my Central American Politics class we discussed the high income inequality rate in Panama. It was truly an experience seeing the poverty and conditions that some of the citizens in Panama have to live in, and how lucky we are in the United States."
"The Panamanian students warmly accepted us and we will treat them with hospitality when they visit the University of Louisville to complete their studies."
"I will strongly recommend this trip to my friends and other students at the University of Louisville."
"The culture is rich and behind each unexplored door is a new opportunity to be found. I can attest that this trip has paved a new path for me to seek not only other study abroad programs that the University of Louisville has to offer, but this trip has allowed me to broaden and establish a clearer direction of my future goals and career."
-Patrick J. Kvietkus
"I am in the College of Business at the University of Louisville, majoring in Marketing. I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to allow me to further expand my cultural appreciation. The Panama Scholar program gave me the guidance and tools that I needed to truly adapt to the Panamanian way of life. From the trips to the Aldeas orphanage to visiting the Presidential Palace in Casco Viejo, I feel that I was able to see and encounter parts of Panama that many tourists do not get to experience... So many different people that we met invited us to their homes to cook us dinner and take us sight seeing. It's not everywhere that you can find that warmth and kindness."
"My experiences in Panama have solidified my desires to continue learning and experiencing Latin American cultures through travel and they have also enriched my educational experience, making me a more well-rounded student. Being able to experience Panamanian culture first-hand, by attending classes with native Panamanians, taking educational excursions to places, such as the indigenous Emberá Village, the Panamanian National Assembly, and committing to community service in Las Aldeas orphanage have taught me what it takes to be a leader in the international community. Touring a country with an extraordinary ecological patrimony has also taught me the responsibility and commitment that people have to the care of the environment."
"Every one of us will see our culture, including behavior, dress, interaction, food, and lifestyle, in a new light. For many of the scholars, including myself, this was their first time out of the country. This opportunity has given us the ability to see our culture as one of thousands across the world."
"Coming into Panama, I had a goal in mind. This goal was to do research about the Afro-Panamanian culture. I am currently a graduate student with the Department of Classical and Modern Languages in Spanish and also in the Latin American and Latino Studies Graduate Certificate program. My concentration is the impact of the African ethnicity in Latin American culture. Therefore, my priority was to gather information about the Afro-Panamanian culture. Professor Ricardo Acosta at QLU was very helpful to my research; his knowledge about the Panamanian culture, specifically about the Afro-Panamanians, elevated the quality of my research to a higher level. He connected me with the right people to carry on with my research professionally."
-José Manuel Nieto
"The benefits of studying abroad in Panama were countless. For one, I was able to use my Spanish everyday and improve my skills. There is no better way to hone my Spanish-speaking skills than to be immersed headfirst in culture where everybody speaks it in a proper social context. For example, it felt great being able to haggle for the price of a cab in Spanish. I also was able to befriend many local Panamanians at the university where we had class. Many of them are moving to Louisville in the near future, so I told them I am more than willing to help them out with anything they may need."
"I myself am a Spanish major and for me, this is the first time I really had a great chance to use it... I found that very few people speak English. I found myself pulling up all kinds of vocabulary I had completely forgotten about and I even had people complimenting me on my Spanish."
"Many people think that since Panama only became an independent nation in 1904 that it doesn't have its own culture, but I have learned that that is completely untrue. The culture of Panama is vibrant; I especially loved their national dance and dress, which I had the pleasure of seeing twice during the trip. It is also interesting to observe the African influences in the culture, along with the true melting pot that they have due to the building of the Canal. I also learned a ton about Central American politics in the short four weeks that we were here. I now have a much deeper understanding of the history of the Central American countries and the United States' involvement in their history and development."
"I reaped many benefits from my experience. As a Spanish student, there is no better way to learn a language than to be surrounded by it. Using a language practically, outside of the classroom, motivates me and makes me realize the real value of what we are learning. As a Communication major, seeing how media is handled in a different country gives me a more complete understanding of the discipline."
"Not only have I been culturally enriched but I have also had a renewed educational spirit by coming on this trip. The Panama scholar experience is not only one of education but one of recreation as well. This combination of education and recreation provides for a truly unique and life-changing experience that is unmatched by any other classroom setting."
"I am a graduate student in Spanish at UofL, so getting to spend part of my summer in Panama gave me the opportunity to get to know a country with which I have thus far had very little interaction. Apart from some of the excursions our group was able to take, I am particularly grateful for the Panamanian Culture class we took. My broad interest in the field of Hispanic Studies lies in Afro-Hispanic cultural contact, and Dr. Acosta spent considerable time discussing this in class, as well as bringing in a guest speaker who shared even more about Afr0-Colonial and Afro-Antillean history in Panama."
"The excursions and tours of the city, coupled with the information we learned in class, helped me learn about Panamanian Culture, history, and government as my knowledge about the country was limited upon arrival. For example, our hike to Cerro Ancón and Parque Natural Metropolitano helped us learn about Martyr Day here in Panama, as well as their journey to gain independence. Our tour of the Panama Canal taught us about not only that being one of the largest things that contribute to the economy but how they are also reliant on it as their main source of energy."
"I have learned so much about the culture of Panama while being here. Not only have I been able to learn from my Panamanian Cultures course and my Intercultural Communication course, but I have also been able to gain firsthand experience from the relationships I have built and the experiences I have had. I have made so many wonderful memories and am leaving with many new friendships. The program was everything I had hoped for and more. I cannot wait to return home and share my many experiences with my friends and family and give them an insight on what Panama is really about."
"The study abroad Panama program has given me the opportunity to use the language skills that I have learned as a college student in a real-life setting and the opportunity to gain cultural insight into Panamanian culture as well through taking the 551 Panamanian Culture and 690 Intercultural Communication courses, in addition to taking part in the many activities made available during the program."