"This trip has been a learning experience for me
in more ways than one, and I will always cherish the friendships that I have
forged through the circumstances that I have shared with my classmates and the
native Panamanians that I have met."
"In addition to the physical locations themselves, the people I met along the way also provided beneficial lessons on Panamanian culture. I have made several relationships here that I really value and intend to keep for years to come."
"As a Spanish major, this finally gave me the chance to immerse myself in a Spanish culture and help me better my language skills. At the same time, this couldn’t have helped me more while I am also working towards a Latin American Studies minor. After more than four years of studying Latin Americans and their language, I feel like I have learned more in Panama than any class or teacher could ever attempt to explain in a classroom in the United States."
"From going to the Panama Canal to backpacking through El Valle, from trying foods that I never would have dreamed existed to visiting with native peoples to learn about their culture, I feel like I have gotten much more than I could have bargained for and learned a lot about many things in the process."
"This trip has been the most exciting, memorable, and educational experience of my life thus far. I never imagined in a million years I would be studying abroad in Latin America. This trip has opened my eyes to a new culture and expanded my knowledge of language exponentially. Not only did I get to experience this amazing opportunity with a great group of peers but I also got to see and witness aspects of a culture that I never thought possible. Panamanians are extremely nice and welcoming. Their customs are so meaningful and full of happiness."
"I remember showing my camera to some of the young boys of the village and they were mesmerized. That just goes to show how the simplest things to us in the U.S. can be treasures for people of different cultures. I expected to have a great time but I didn't expect to completely fall in love with the country. I´m already discussing internships with various people and I am hoping that I’m able to return in the near future. I have learned so much and I have met so many amazing people."
"I had no idea what to expect from the trip but I was pleasantly surprised. The program was very well organized and put together. They kept us busy by taking us on multiple trips and exposing us to different parts of the culture. We saw so many different parts of the country including the presidential palace, beaches like Isla Grande, and Casco Antiguo which is the oldest part of the city."
"Full immersion in another country and culture has given me confidence. I’ve been able to practice my language skills with classmates and locals throughout the trip. I think I gained the most from this conversation practice than I ever could in just a classroom or from a textbook."
"I was absolutely amazed during our hike through Cerro Ancón since I had only ever seen rainforests, sloths, and leaf cutter ants from the comfort of my couch at home while watching Animal Planet or National Geographic. It was a once in a lifetime experience to get to see those interesting little creatures in person. I thought all the history that we learned about Panama on these excursions was really interesting and offered a perspective seldom given in World History books in the United States."
"This program has offered a wonderful opportunity for me to not only continue to learn more in Latin American and Latino Studies, one of my minors, but to also practice and enhance my Spanish speaking skills in a more natural context. The program has provided not only opportunities for my chosen studies, but also provided insightful cultural experiences and appreciation."
"Before coming to Panama, I had always thought of the world in terms of the United States. It was all I had ever known or seen. Coming to Panama has shown me that there a thousand ways of seeing the world, and that every cultural perspective is interlocked through history, and a common sense of humanness. Playing with the kids, reading to them and getting to know them was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had. Before coming on this trip, I was thinking about applying to be a Big Sister. This experience has inspired me to take up volunteer work in Louisville. Throughout this trip, I have struggled with finding the words to describe a culture that not only contains life, but is truly alive. Everything here is light, color, movement. Sound is constant and just the sheer feel of the sun is exhilarating. Panama could not have been a better experience, and I encourage future travel lovers to become Panama Scholars."
"Experience and confidence are not things you can learn in a classroom, but with the constant daily exposure and interaction with native speakers I had in Panama, I know that I am finally comfortable speaking Spanish."
"The Panama Scholar Program allowed me to accomplish many firsts in my life. Before coming to Panama I had never traveled outside of the United States, so the long plane ride in itself was an adventure for me. I had also never been fully immersed in the Spanish language, so this trip allowed me to test myself on my fluency. Besides those two obvious milestones, I never thought about the extent of this trip in terms of things I may never again be able to do in my life."
"As a working, full time and involved student I thought that I would never be able to have the chance to study abroad due to the often lengthily and costly trips that are most common with study abroad programs. The Panama Scholar Award, however, gave me the opportunity to be a part of this amazing program and for that I am truly grateful. The overall knowledge that I have been able to acquire in such a short amount of time is incredible. Learning a different language has been a difficult and sometimes frustrating experience for me. I was not prepared for the amount of support and helpfulness that has been so prevalent here during my immersion into a Spanish speaking environment."
"This trip has been helpful, not only for bettering my Spanish, but for understanding another culture. It is one thing to read about a culture and say that you understand, but after being here nearly a month I feel like I have an understanding of Panamanian culture that I couldn’t have from a book."
"Before we visited them I thought their cultural traditions were gone long ago, and something you only see in history books. I found that Panama strives to keep their tribes traditional, and it is an awesome experience to be placed in the middle of their world."
"The Panamanian people have welcomed us and inspired many of us to see more of the world and its many different cultures. We have learned and grown in ways that are unforgettable and will be a part of us forever."
"Not only have I learned so much about the Panamanian culture, but I have also been able to learn a lot about myself in the process."
"I returned to Panama after being away nearly 30 years and I was able to see the country’s transformation since the last time I was here as a soldier in the U.S. Army between 1981 and 1983. One of my most memorable moments was seeing the barracks where I lived in the former Fort Clayton, now the site of a university called La Ciudad del Saber -- The City of Knowledge."
-J Bryant Scott
"In my Intercultural Communications class I was able to interact with numerous Panamanian students and learn more about the culture here and their lifestyle on a personal level outside of a textbook. I think it is important to experience what it is that we are studying and learning in a textbook in real life and here I was given that opportunity."
"While the tourist component of this adventure was incredible, I learned a great deal about Panamanian culture and have experienced a notable increase in my Spanish composition and conversation skills. Throughout the program, I have practiced Spanish frequently outside of class with native Panamanians, an action that has undoubtedly made conversing in Spanish more fluid and comfortable for me. I highly doubt that I could have developed this ability in a classroom."
"Both educational and fun, I feel that the program provided me with the cultural experience of a lifetime. We quickly came to the realization that the Panamanian people are generally more than happy to talk with new people, which also gave me a great opportunity to practice Spanish."
-Karly Van Hook
"I am a Spanish major, and in just three short weeks the impact that Panama has had on my Spanish skills are monumental. Before this trip, I lacked confidence that I needed to be able to successfully speak a second language, but this trip showed me that I know more than I had thought. Also, since I was forced to speak the language, I became comfortable with my ability to do so. Before this trip, I rarely even spoke in Spanish class, because I was worried that I didn’t know how. However, I have realized that I can do it."
"I have to come to realize that through our many cultural differences, Panamá has a melting pot culture just as America does. I will forever cherish this grand opportunity to see another part of the world because it has helped me become a more open-minded person, a necessary quality needed to be successful in the world."