“I am not playing with her - she is too small, she can’t run, and doesn’t talk to me!” one EducaFuturo participant shouted. “He only talks to his friends and just because I look different he doesn’t talk to me,” responded another.
I first visited Panamá in 1989 to see my Salvadoran aunt who had started her family there. However, I first experienced Panamá in 1979 as a child in Orange County, California through the loving and inspiring late Panamanian Archbishop Tomás Clavel. Clavel had been exiled to Los Angeles in the 1970’s after a change in the Panamanian government, where he spent his remaining years uplifting countless people, including my own family.
When I was selected to be one of the 18 English teachers for the inaugural Panama Teacher Match program through Partners of the Americas, I knew I was in for an adventure. I had requested to be sent to a rural area, but everything about my placement was a mystery. This was the summer adventure I was craving! The unknown was the beauty of the experience! I never expected to fall so in love with the community.
It’s amazing how life can often come full circle, and my experience as one of the inaugural fellows of Panama Teacher Match proved just this. This past winter, I embarked on a journey to be accepted into Panama Teacher Match, a dynamic new program of teaching English to Spanish-speaking students in Panama. My interest in this program was fueled by two major ideals: my passion for my culture and country (being of Panamanian descent); and my love for my profession of teaching.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, an estimated 13 million children are involved in child labor. Many of them come from poor, low-educated families, aren’t enrolled in school and endure dangerous working conditions. Often, they work for their families, whose economic survival depends on the additional income their children bring in.
Six years ago, I, along with Melissa Golladay, Partners' then Director of Youth Exchanges, had the honor of joining an amazing group of young leaders at the VII Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.
Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Rebecca Roebber traveled to Panama to support La Asociacion de Profesionales y Tecnicos Ngäbe - Buglé de Bocas de Toro (APROTENG). Rebecca spent her two weeks in Panama training a group of women on marketing and the production of cocoa by-products.
PANAMA CITY, PANAMA, April 9, 2015: Today, at the Summit of the Americas, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the winners of the Santander Bank-sponsored competition of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. The nine winning institutions involve university partnerships between the United States and Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and Paraguay. Winners will be celebrated at a reception on April 10 at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Earl S. Tupper Research and Conference Center in Panama City, Panama. The reception, hosted by Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators, will honor current strategic commitments to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund including: CAF Development Bank of Latin America, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Exxon Mobil Foundation, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, Santander Bank, and Sempra International.
Child labor in Ecuador and Panama is prominent in the most vulnerable and socially excluded sectors: indigenous and Afro-descendant populations. These two populations account for a high incidence of poverty, social exclusion, employment and lack of education, which also explains why they are most at risk of child labor. The numbers are stark.
On Friday July 5, 2013, Partners launched our EducaFuturo program in Panama. The launch was a big success, and we are excited to begin working on the ground.
Steve Vetter, Partners’ President & CEO, traveled to Panama to participate in the inaugural launch of the EducaFuturo program. In his keynote remarks, he addressed the positive social and economic impact the program plans to have in both Ecuador and Panama by eliminating child labor in each country.