As I wrote about a few months ago, in addition to working as a community volunteer, I was also selected to serve as Peace Corps Panama’s Agribusiness Coordinator for the west side of the country. It’s no secret I love to travel and meet new people, so I’ve really been loving my new job, which is essentially that plus business education- great, right? I get work-related leave + travel expenses to visit volunteers on the west side of the country (Bocas del Toro, the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, and Veraguas) and help out with any type of business or finance education/projects that are going on in their communities.
One of the four Peace Corps programs currently working in Panama is Environmental Health, which builds aqueducts and latrines and works in health & sanitation. Many of those volunteers (there are about 50 in Panama and 15 in my region alone) are required to hold Water Committee Seminars in their site to teach community leaders organizations and basic skills in water system construction, maintenance, and basic finance. Since I’ve been
begging asking people to invite me to their sites, I’ve gotten to help with the organization and finance sections of several different seminars in my region.
A few weeks ago my friend Colleen stayed with me on the way to help out with my neighbor, Travis’s, site and brought her pup, Oso (“bear”). Of course, when she invited me to spend a weekend in her site, Massy couldn’t be left behind.
Our gas station brought a whole new meaning to "on the water"
Since he hates being left behind, he loved actually getting to go along this time. He was such a champ with the boat ride and new environment, and he loved the beach. The seminar was two days, and while Colleen, Dylan (a new Environmental Health volunteer), and I taught different topics during the day, Massy and Oso waited patiently for the afternoons which they knew would bring walks to the beach.
Colleen's site is awesome- it's situated on a peninsula between a bay and the beach, and thanks to it's convenient location there are several community groups working on establishing eco-tourism programs. There's even a restaurant on the beach! Our charlas went really well and I'm looking forward to returning and seeing how I can help the tourism groups.
In the meantime, you should check out Colleen's blog. It's a beautifully written blog full of photography and intriguing posts about life in her community that really captures the essence of being a volunteer in this part of Panama.