MPH Panama Practicum 2013: What a start!

Michelle Nguyen
July 10, 2013

Shortly after arriving in Panama, my laptop decided to malfunction on me and would not start! I ended up spending Day 1 reformatting my laptop for hours in the hotel room. Sadly enough, because of this, I ended up losing much of the work and files that I had prepared for this trip such as my own Reflection Paper. Additionally, all of my Microsoft Office applications such as Word Doc and PowerPoint were gone because of the reformatting. For the following two days, I quickly became consumed by jetlag and anxiety for how I would complete my work without Microsoft applications during my stay in Panama.

Upon arriving at the elementary school on Day 3, my anxiety were quietly laid to rest. The children at the school quickly came out of the classrooms to greet us and sing to us as our bus made a stop at the front gate of the school. Seeing the energetic and joyful children greeting us in English and singing to us immediately made me forget about my own technical misfortune. They had made several signs in English to greet us, and I was moved by how much time and effort they had put in in order to make us all feel welcomed. I felt their energy and excitement were simply contagious and could not help but to smile and laugh along with them. Additionally, the teachers and staff all warmly welcomed us into their classrooms as one of the school teachers who spoke English gave us a tour their entire school.

Thus far, this experience has taught me how to be more flexible and to take the unexpected with great patience. I am greatly appreciative of all the staff (especially Rosa!) and fellow group members who have been understanding of my situation and helpful to me as we are progressing in our work. More importantly, I am grateful for such a humbling experience and opportunity to work with these school children and school staff. I look forward to working with the children and sharing more in their laughter and light heartedness in the days to come.

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 »