Today, I visited my friend Dario Quiroz and his students that are learning conversational English. It has been a while since I had stopped in to see Dario and it is always a pleasure to be involved with his students.
I met four students today. Three are in the photo above. and one came a little later and I didn’t get her photo. However, I may get her photo another day because she has a new Venezuelan restaurant and I may drop in to give it a try. She said all the food is typical Venezuelan.
The students are Anise, Stephanie and Sasha. I hope I got their names right, but if I didn’t they can comment and correct me.
Dario’s students are always the best. While English is taught in the school system and is mandatory, it is not necessarily a desired course by the students.
The students, that go to Dario, want to learn English because they see that it will help them to get a better job. There isn’t anything I enjoy more than helping students learn. It is always beneficial for students to hear English spoken by a person speaking his/her native language.
Most Panamanian teachers, including Dario, will have a Panamanian accent, when they teach English. That is to be expected. Dario has always gone out of his way to try to get native English speakers to visit his class so the students can practice hearing a non-Panamanian accent.
I enjoy these conversational sessions. You might too. If you think you might like it, see if there are any english conversational classes and volunteer to participate. You will be surprised how good you feel for helping the youth of Panama.
Dario asked me if I could spend an hour or so with a couple that was taking English from him. I always enjoy doing that and if I can work it in, I do it.
This morning I met with Sergio and Algeria. They are a very nice and interesting couple. Both are working on the Hydro Electric project in Caizan, Panama. Sergio is working on the physical engineering portion and Algeria is working on the environmental impact aspect.
They have come from the Canary Islands. Lilliam and I had been to Tenerife on the cruise that terminated in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Sergio, Algeria and I had a good conversation that covered politics around the world, economy around the world, Costa Rica vs Panama and other topics. I had a great time and hopefully they did as well. I always enjoy meeting people from other countries.
Before we quit, I took a photo to record how I spent my time today. Welcome Sergio and Algeria to Panama, specifically David, I hope they enjoy their time here.
Yesterday evening, Dario invited me to one of his classes for conversational English practice. This is one of my favorite things to do.
The class had two young men and two young ladies.
One of the young men is working on his English so he is prepared to go to Harding University in Arkansas on scholarship from the Walton foundation. His English was pretty good and he should be ready by the time he leaves. He is going to study electrical engineering.
He will be staying in a dorm and I bet it will be quite an experience. Prior to this, his only experience outside of Panama was a trip to Florida to Disney World. I bet his first time with snow will provide many photos for his family back in Panama.
The second young man is in high school and has been in other of Dario’s classes I have visited. He will be pursuing a technical career too, most likely, as he said his favorite classes were physics and mathematics.
One of the young ladies had just graduated from college. She is an ecological scientist and is in the process of finishing her thesis (due in July). She is planning on going to Panama City to look for work and hoping she can find something supporting the ecology of the canal. She said English will be very important to her finding the best job. Her background was also very technical, but more oriented toward biology and eco-sciences.
The last young lady was pursuing business administration. She was late to the class and I didn’t have much time talking to her.
If you are coming to Panama and wonder what you will do to keep yourself busy and provide provide yourself entertainment, I encourage you to participate in some of the local school’s english programs. It is good for students to hear all accents from people outside of Panama.
I always have a great time when I am invited to participate in Dario’s classes. I am confident I get as much out of the classes as the students do.
Thursday was the last session with the Universidad Latina English classes.
This was a larger group and the most interesting and participative of all the classes. We divided up into two groups in separate classrooms so that one conversational group would not interfere with the other group. Jacob Billinger also participated in these workshops and will appear in some of the photos.
Most of my questions were the same as in previous groups, but there was one new question.
It was what did I think of panamanian women. I asked to have the question clarified. The the question became , “Did I think Panamanian women were pretty?”
I said “Of course! Why would you think that I would not consider them pretty?”
The person that asked the question said that they were told by many North Americans that the women in Panama were too black.
My reply was that there were all colors in Panama and that I judged people’s beauty by their actions and not by their color and other physical attributes.
While this year’s classes are ending, there will be more classes next year and Dario will need English volunteers. If you would like to participate, you can write Dario at dario_q @ hotmail.com (remove the spaces).
Last night I had another English class session. The entire school is still in a state of shock over the murder of one of it’s students. Something like this has a great effect on the entire student body.
The students in last night’s class, that I asked, were not close friends, but were very aware and wondering how the investigation would end.
Here is a photo of Dario (third from the left) and the students that participated last night. I knew the two on the right from previous sessions with the class. The other three were new students for me.
It was another lively session covering many subjects. Here are a few things I remember from last night.
The young man on the right works at TGI Fridays for 8 hours before attending class. He mentioned that he is one of two servers working in Friday’s that speak English and likes to have customers come in so he can practice his English. If you happen to see him in Friday’s, tell him you saw him on Chiriquí Chatter. Continue reading Still In Shock→
Yesterday evening was another evening with one of Dario’s classes. This one was at Universidad Latina. The class was to run from 6 PM until 7:30 PM. However, Panama provided a little excitement and at 7:20 a large part of David, including Universidad Latina, went black. No electricity.
We were on the third floor and throughout our classroom, cell phones came on to provide a small amount of light. Since it was close to the end of class, our class was just dismissed.
The halls had emergency lighting and that provided safety in exiting the building.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to take my normal end of class photo. I was trying to think if there was anything that came up in my conversations with the students that I should pass on and there are a couple things. Continue reading Somebody Turn on The Lights→
I can’t think of anything that I get to do, that I enjoy more than visiting one of Dario Quiroz English classes. Thursday, I got a call asking if I would mind stopping into his evening class on Friday.
My calendar was free and I said I would be happy to. I arrived at 4:30 and his class and I had an hour and a half session of learning about each other. I always walk away from these sessions feeling good.
This class was especially fun. I am always interested in why they want to learn English. In the photo above, the lady immediately on my left works as a nurse at Obaldia Hospital.
I know from talking to nurses in the past that this is a very stressful job. She told me that there is so much work to do that she rushes through her lunch in 15 minutes. Couple that with a rotating 8 hour shift and toss in learning a foreign language and you have to appreciate her determination.
Dario gave me a call the other day and asked if I could help with some students he had in private classes.
The first group contained six students that work for Pesca Panama, which is a sport fishing company based out of the Pedregal Marina. This was an interesting group. Many, if not all, had had zero training in English before starting with Dario three months ago.
Monday and Tuesday, I had the great pleasure of helping my good friend Professor Dario Quiroz and three of his English classes at Universidad Latina. I have done similar sessions with Dario’s classes over the years.
This time it was finals time and Professor Dario wanted to observe his students in a conversational setting. There were four English speaking volunteers on Monday and three Tuesday night.
Professor Dario divided the class up into multiple groups and each of us took a group. After a certain amount of time, we all switched. One of the objectives is to allow the students to hear a variety of accents.
I alway start by passing out my cards and ask them what my first name is. This time about 50% said “Don”. Normally it is 90% saying “Ray”. The majority of the emails I get from Panamanians, that read my blog, are addressed to Mr. Ray. Don is normally considered a title in Latin America.
The discussions in the groups went in all directions. Some asked the normal types of questions.