MPH Panama Practicum 2013: The Start of the Panama Adventure

Phillip Daneshgars

July 10, 2013

Hey all,

So I have arrived in Panama to a new and enlightening adventure. It has been a few days now and we have toured the 24 de Diciembre clinic, elementary school, children’s hospital, and the old city.

I was first struck by the vast differences between wealth in this country. At first glance, it is easy to be fooled that this country is thriving from all the high-rises. But, walking the walk of the citizens who experience more poverty has given me a more accurate feel. My team and I are working with elementary school children and we were welcomed with such open arms. There were signs greeting us in English and balloons blown up. It was very evident that the children had been looking forward to seeing us based on the lasting smiles on their faces and the way they looked at us. All eyes were on the USC students and I. It was striking to see their appreciation and I had not expected for just our presence to be a powerful influence on the students. The director the next day, made it very clear to us that we would be working on nutrition by measuring height and weight to assess BMI. 

Our group discussed possible lectures with the school director that will be presented to children and already and have divided up our work. The school made it clear that focus should be on nutritious value of products and also wanted to cover tolerance. Tolerance will be conveyed in general terms to students and they will have the opportunity to present their interpretations to us through door decorations. Together, our group was assigned classes to teach and work with from pre-k to 6th grade. I am looking forward to the hopeful relationships and interactions I will have with the children and am curious to see how they perceive tolerance. We are developing questionnaires to ask different children individually about tolerance and what they think it represents. The third topic that will be covered is physical activity. Our group tried to come up with creative and active ways to satisfy children?s health and expectations of enjoyment. We have decided to produce soccer and yoga workouts to engage students together. It will be a new experience for me to teach children in a foreign language and I will do my best. I am excited and cannot wait for what this school has in the cards for my team and I!

About the MPH Panama Practicum

A group of University of Southern California graduate students are researching public health in Panama City, Panama, for a two-week international practicum, organized by the USC Master of Public Health (MPH) program. This post was excerpted from panama.usc.eduView all posts in this series »