MPH Panama Practicum 2013: La Escuelita!

Helen Chong
July 11, 2013


Travelling from San Diego to Panama has been quite a long trip! But definitely being here I am truly grateful for the opportunity and time to embrace such a beautiful and enriched country! I am still amazed by the lush greenery and tropical trees that greet us each morning on our drive to the sites!

I originally planned to work in the Oir es Vivir/ Hearing Health Group but as soon as I got to the hotel the first day, Dr. Baezconde received some news that there was a renovation going on at the site and a need for Spanish speakers (I really regret not continuing my Spanish education after high school). I decided to work with the school group, which consist of the following members: Elaine, Roxanna, Nicole, Michelle, and Phillip.

Ever since, each day has been filled with travelling to our individual group site and working with our specific community and its needs. Our first work day, all of us visited all of the three sites (The Clinic of 24 de Diciembre, Vector Group, and Altos de Cabuya Elementary School), where we were able to listen to the issues/topics of each site. After, all of us divided into our respective project groups to develop and prepare a formal presentation of our prosed projects based on the topics/issues discussed.

For our escuelita group, we were given three criteria/topics to work on: (1) Tolerance/School Bullying, (2) Nutrition, and (3) Physical Activity. Yesterday, our group met with the principal of the Altos de Cabuya Elementary School to give a formal presentation of our proposed projects regarding these three criteria. Soon after, we began to work on these projects full speed. One of the rising issues in this school has been school bullying and violence, as there have been serious cases reported by the teachers on the older elementary students. Trying to find ways to assess this sensitive issue, we were recommended by Lourdes A., a professor at the Universidad de Panama, to do a contest, where these students would be able to understand and reenact school values, one of them being: tolerance. So we developed the tolerancia contest with the entire school, where we work with the children and their respective grade teachers to create a mural/poster on their classroom door on the topic, tolerance: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Today, we went to the school with our tolerancia contest flyers and its criteria. The principal and our group visited each classroom to announce the contest and its criteria to the students and their teachers. I am excited for the coming days to work with these students in creating a fun decorative classroom mural door with a beautiful message about the value of tolerance in this school! Keep you guys updated!

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 »