MPH Panama Practicum 2013: The Beginning

Verenice Torres

July 13, 2013

And it all begins! Today was a very educational day for me. Not only did I learn a lot about the history of Panama and a historical landmark such as the Panama Canal but we actually got to get to visit some of the history in Casco Viejo or the second city. We attended a great lecture delivered by Dr. Calvo and colleague that was very thorough with regards to history but most importantly with regards to public health. I truly understand why Panama is considered a country vital for the public health sector. Later that day I fell in love with some of the architecture in Casco Viejo. We had a nice little tour guided by Juan our tour guide who was very funny. Despite a very expected storm in the middle of the day we managed to appreciate this beautiful place. Through its architecture everyone can witness the various European influences this country has- Spanish, French, and English. I love the fact that they have tried to preserve the original buildings but I think I am more in love with the contrast this area brings to the country. In one side you have a modern Panama with skyscrapers and in the other there is this beautiful little colonial town. Casco Viejo is truly a beauty for any visitor with a rich historical value.

Later that day, we visited the Panama Canal. Although I am not an engineer, as an amateur artist I can appreciate the beauty in the creation on the Panama Canal. It is truly something spectacular! I did not know what to expect but seeing it in action was something else and quite frankly something I would have never imagined in a million years I would have witnessed. Today, as I saw the boats arriving and leaving but most importantly the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans uniting I could not help to think what a huge historical and developmental contribution to the world this canal has been. I kept asking myself as the saw the boats going through the canal ?How did the creators of the canal know exactly what measurements this landmark would need?? And if they knew exactly what contribution they were making to the world? It is simply incredible to believe this piece was man made. In addition to this, the canal represents the labor of many groups of people it is truly a product of a collaboration of workers from different countries which makes this a world effort and thus unique. Yet, its true beauty lies in the simplicity of its mechanics. As complex as it may seem the canal is a success because of one force and that is a natural force, gravity. Who would have imagined what an impact this would have on the world?

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 »