I can’t believe it’s over, I got so used to being in Panama. Since I’ve been back, everyone has been asking me how it was and what Panama is like. I don’t even know where to begin, I was just so impressed with Panama. It was nothing like I had imagined, I went there thinking it was a third world country so the entire time I was comparing it to a country like India, and its no where near that.
Overall, I was very happy to see how everything is in Panama. After visiting the clinic and taking surveys of the many patients there, I understood the people and culture a little bit better. To my surprise, Panamanians have a very high literacy rate and most of them have had some education. When we would ask them about what they knew about cervical cancer or HPV vaccinations, they all had some idea. No one said they knew nothing; even the men were aware of it and supportive of their wives and children receiving vaccination. I was beyond touched to learn how much interest they showed in learning more, everyone wanted more information.
The last two days we had there were amazing and I was so pleased to have worked with some amazing people. Even though the last week was very hectic with putting everything together, it was well worth it when we saw what we had accomplished. Nothing could have been done without the support of our professors and the clinic staff. I was so pleased to see the children perform for us last Thursday, how innocent and wonderful they were. I could tell they put in a lot of work and it felt so special. They even prepared a meal for us and gave us gifts, so much love!
One thing I do regret is not making enough effort to learn or speak Spanish. Fortunately, we always had our professors or Lisa to translate so this made it easier to communicate. I do think that this was helpful and it saved a lot of time and effort. However, I know that I would have been forced to learn more if this help was not there. I am sure I would have prepared what to say and practiced speaking the night before for the next day and this would have taught me something.