Good morning, America, of both the North and Central varieties! Or anywhere else one reading this may reside. Each day is continuously more exciting than the last, and I can’t believe I’ve been here for almost three weeks. Time is seriously flying. The past week and a half since I last wrote to you has been quite a ride, so, once more, allow me to start at the beginning.
That first hike back into the valley was honestly liberating. Most of us were sporting a bit of a hangover, and you’d think that the three mile up hill hike would just be even worse, but honestly we all just sweat out all of the toxins in our body and once we finally reached Suicide Hill, all of us Kalu Yalans had lost our hangovers and were ready to go. It was a nice surprise.
Because I already gave you the low-down on my living situation (update: my hammock is still awesome), I want to focus on what I’ve been doing. As interns, we have “classes” where our instructors give us interactive lectures on different aspects of our program. Zouheir is awesome and incredibly insightful. I’m really excited to be able to work with him this semester. We kind of started out with a few identification activities to develop a better understanding of what type of worker we are and what types of environments we thrive in (I’m a Competitor and most closely identify with Intrapersonal characteristics). Our talks have a wide variety of topics to help us with both our personal and group projects, such as product development, how to write a project proposal, identifying markets, social entrepreneurship and how that impacts your market and vision, and how to properly develop and write a business plan. I’m so over the moon about how much I’m learning; I don’t know if I can go back to online school for much longer after this.
Speaking of projects, a little update on my personal project! We deemed creating a gallery space within the valley just not feasible during the wet season, unfortunately. However, we still wanted to work with art, and we eventually came to the idea to work with a local artist to come up with a shirt design. Our idea is to repurpose old tee shirts from places like thrift stores to print them instead of ordering them from a distributor, and sell them for x amount of dollars, the artist receiving a cut of that. It’s a tried-and-true business model, a creative way to repurpose something previously used, every shirt will be unique so it will be fun to do, and Josh and I will have the opportunity to get involved in the local art scene of Panama City. We’re really excited to get started on this new project idea and hopefully we can still cater to our original goal of bringing Panamanian art into the valley.
Speaking of projects: pt. 2! This past week, we got a project from Zou in which we need to create a project proposal for Chris, the man who basically handles the water system in our valley by himself, to create a water reservoir in the valley. I love that we’re implementing what we learn during our lecture time into actual activities. It was really challenging at first, but once we gathered the pieces, it really began to come together. We submitted them yesterday to Chris and he’s going to choose one and we will be using that plan to construct the reservoir next week. We gathered a bunch of data and considered the critical information necessary, such as budget, materials, risks, return on investment, and even drafted up a possible schedule to use to ensure that labor hours were equal across the board. I definitely took advantage of my knowledge in Microsoft Office and Excel, and it showed in our project. Everybody’s proposals looked amazing, so I don’t know which one will be chosen, but it was a great learning experience, and that’s what I care about the most.
In order to finish the reservoir proposal and begin on our personal project proposals, we came into the city this week! It was an interesting time getting here. About two thirds of the way down the hike, the dingus in me reared its ugly head. I lost my footing, fell, sprained my left ankle, and completely tore up my right leg. Yes, it hurts a lot, but I’m more upset about the fact that I can’t go out dancing this weekend, to be honest. It was honestly kind of funny, though, because I was walking by myself, and I just sort of sat there for a bit, debating whether to wait for a car to drive by and pick me up or just keep walking. I sat there for about five minutes, realized that I had literally no idea when a car would be coming down the mountain, and didn’t want to wait. Yes, I got up, made sure I could move my ankle, and just kept going until I got to Casa Llena in San Miguel. I casually rolled up with a limp and covered in blood; it was quite a spectacle. And to put icing on the cake, once we got onto public transport to go into the city, the bus kept breaking down so we had to get off and back on the bus about three times before we even reached the city bus station. It was kind of awful, to be honest. But hey, life goes on, I have a compression ankle wrap, and I think my creepy scrapes that slightly resemble claw marks are kind of healing. We will see how this next week goes, but in the mean time, you best believe that the hike is not happening. I am hitching a ride into the valley, or I am not going.
Aside from that nonsense, our place in the city, Casa Hispania, is amazing. Fun fact: it’s actually where the president of Panama used to live. We live in the top floor penthouse. There are no walls to separate the balcony from the rest of the house, so I guess it’s technically outdoors, which I love, since there is no bugs. You can catch a breeze from anywhere in the house, besides the bedrooms and board room, which are air-conditioned. The balcony has this gorgeous view of the park and the Pacific ocean, and there’s plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars around us. On the off chance that none of those strike your fancy, you can Uber basically anywhere in Panama City for about two dollars, too, so that works out wonderfully. Also, the interior of the apartment is loaded with really cool art. The building has an elevator too, which definitely appeals to me, given my current physical condition. It’s just an all-around good time, to be honest.
Today is Thursday, the day we go back to the valley, technically. However, we have a long weekend, meaning that we don’t have class tomorrow, so a lot of us are just staying in the city. There’s a lot of really cool stuff going on this weekend, including a Panamanian Oktoberfest that we’re all relatively stoked for. Craft beer is a huge thing in Panama, apparently. Regardless, it’s going to be an awesome weekend, whether I’m drinking beer at a Panamanian beer festival or Netflix and Chilling back at the hostel. Panama is dope, but I’m still pretty chapped about missing Michigan autumn. Also lowkey chapped that no one has sent me any fall pictures yet???? Y’all, I know when those leaves change. I see you in your beanie. SHOW ME THE LEAVES.
Anywho. I’m alive, I’m good, I’m drinking coffee and enjoying the sounds of the city for the first time in a while. Kind of weird to not be waking up to a mountain view these past couple mornings, to be honest. Who knew one would ever get used to that?