June 20, 2015
Many of the students that I teach in my Conversation Club are First-Year Tourism students. Although English is mandatory for their programs, some are still at a beginner-level or many (like me and my Spanish) are still trying get over the hump of shyness that holds us back from saying #yolo and letting ourselves make those mistakes and get to that higher level of fluency. It’s a constant effort, especially when you don’t have to use your second language on a daily basis at home or with friends. And that’s exactly what I’m here for! So when a group of students invited me to the Amador Causeway to practice giving me a tour, I said ABSOLUTELY! They get to practice giving tours in English while I get to learn more about them and their amazing country – that’s what I like to call a win win.
My students have class on Saturday morning believe it or not, so met at the Albrook Bus Terminal once they were done, around 10:30 and waited for the bus to Amador. This journey started much like my first venture to the Causeway back in March (see post), but this time I noticed the buses were running a bit more frequently since it was a weekend. Good to note.
Once we got to the Causeway, the first stop was the Biomuseo. As I said in my first post, this museum looks like it was taken straight out of the Teletubbies (no offense, Frank Gehry). It’s a newer tourist attraction for Panama, only having opened in October 2014, even though the planning process started way back in 1999. Its exhibitions revolve around the idea of Panama’s biodiversity. Even though it was a fairly small museum it was really cool! And definitely a great way to learn about Panama – not just about its incredible species and organisms, but also its culture and history. I’d actually recommend it as one of the first stops for people visiting Panama so that they can really appreciate where they are and what surrounds them.
There is also a part of the Biomuseo on the lower floor that covers the history of the canal, urban expansion, environmental concerns, cultural history and its relevance in Panama culture today all from a fairly honest and un-biased perspective (at least as far as I could tell). Definitely worth the visit! I look forward to going back again soon!
After the Biomuseo tour I was told that there was a “surprise” waiting for me. Lo and behold, the rest of the girls who came with us had set up a picnic! They admitted this was their first-ever picnic, which made me especially pleased because it was just last month we talked about picnics and barbeques in my Memorial Day presentation! I feel like each week I’m realizing more and more how rewarding teaching can be: moments like these can just melt your heart!
After my henna was finished they were trying to be all secretive and figure out who should ‘distract’ me while the rest go to sort out “surprise #3″…. oh goodness. Yulaski and Julia stayed behind with me and we took a little siesta (nap) on the blanket, only to be interrupted by a maternity photoshoot that came by – cutesy and corny, all that one would hope for in a maternity shoot. Finally the girls arrived with surprise #3 – the six-person bikemobile!
We made it all the way down the causeway on our bike… and I’ll be honest, those things are NOT easy to pedal. a) they get really heavy with six people and their things, b) not everyone pedals the whole time and c) you don’t have as much range of motion as you do on a regular bike and can’t go as fast Being rainy season, of course it starting to thunderstorm and pour by the end of our ride, but our legs were pretty exhausted too by that point. On the bus back most of us fell asleep haha but we all agreed it was well worth it. Here are two shots I caught on the ride back:
I’m happy I returned to the causeway. I definitely learned a whole lot more about the area and Panama in general through going with my students plus got to bond with them some more! An excellent way to spend my Saturday, that’s for sure.
The views and information presented in this blog are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the US Department of State.