Guest Post 4 By Courtney (Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama)

Here is the latest update from Courtney, the U.S. Peace Corp Volunteer. Previous posts can be seen by following the Peace Corp Tag.  I sponsored Courtney’s troop for 2011. Each of the girls wrote me a very nice letter saying “Thank You”. I met with Courtney yesterday and gave Courtney the money to cover the girls for 2012. The money I gave Courtney covered the annual registration fee that all group members and group leaders must pay in order to be covered under a private insurance policy that protects the health of participants during group activities.

It makes me feel good to support these young people.

And now for Courtney’s update:

 

Hello!
I hope that everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving and that those of you who were in Panama for the holiday were able to get your hands on some delicious turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and all of the other Thanksgiving goodies! I was lucky enough to spend the holiday with a huge group of other Peace Corps Volunteers here in Panama and was treated to a Thanksgiving feast that really was a taste of home. The meal included all of the traditional Thanksgiving favorites plus plenty of other “comfort foods” from the States, such as macaroni and cheese and apple pie with ICE CREAM. In addition to the awesome meal, it was refreshing to see all the other Volunteers who are working throughout the country of Panama, from the Darien to Bocas del Toro, and to be able to chat with my family via Skype.

On a more Panamanian note, November is a month dedicated to the celebration of Panamanian pride, which is most often displayed through parades. Panamanians celebrate the country’s separation from Colombia on November 3, Flag Day on November 4, and Panama’s independence from Spain on November 28, just to name a few of the November holidays. School children, teachers, and political figures throughout the country dress up in fancy red, white, and blue outfits and take to the streets. These “desfiles” (parades) generally include flag bearers, dancers, a drum core, and performers with batons. There were two days of parades in the community where I work, and on two other occasions the students travelled to participate in parades hosted by other communities. The downside to all of this patriotism is that the parades, practices for the parades, and other associated activities always take place during the school week, meaning that practically a month of instructional time is lost. This can be a bit disheartening as a Volunteer because very little gets “accomplished” during the month of November, but at the end of the day it is just another necessary cultural adjustment. Ultimately, since efforts to be productive are often discouraging, it’s better to simply enjoy the festivities along with community members!

Also, for those of you who have read my previous Chiriquí Chatter posts, I am still working with the cooperative in my community and with a Girl Scout group. Another Volunteer, a member of my community, and I have also recently received official funding approval for a stove and associated reforestation project that will include the construction of specialized stoves that require the use of less firewood in 16 community schools. All participating schools must commit to planting a specified quantity of trees in exchange for the stove. The school in my community and that in the community of the other participating Volunteer will be among the 16 that receive stoves. I know very little about wood-burning stoves and even less about general construction and am enjoying this project as a way to learn some new skills and work with some community members who I have not had the opportunity to work with in the past. I’ll let you all know how it turns out!

Well, I must go now, but I will hopefully be sending in another post soon. Thanks for reading, and have a very happy holiday season!

Courtney
Peace Corps Volunteer – Panama

Note: The contents of this post are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Following are some photos that Courtney sent me that contain some of the girls in her girl-scout troop. The first photos are from the November 28th Parade (Panama’s Independence from Spain). All photos are the property of Courtney.

Isn’t this little girl a cutie!

More from the parade.

The following photo was taken at a Father’s Day party held for the entire community.

My thanks go out to Courtney for sharing her experiences with us and for allowing me to play a small part in it. I know when Courtney is my age, she will look back at the time she spent in Panama with extremely fond memories.

1 thought on “Guest Post 4 By Courtney (Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama)

  1. Yes, she will. You are a good man to support her efforts as you do.
    Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas.

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