Hello from the ASU Movement Exchange chapter on our first day with Movement Exchange in Panama!
Today we arrived safely in Panama after a long night of traveling! We were welcomed at the airport by Mei Ling, Nisha, and Tinna and Tio René, our bus driver for the week. The rest of the day was a mix of settling in to our hostel, getting comfortable, getting oriented, and eating delicious Panamanian food. Tomorrow, we will start in earnest: we will be traveling to Colon to teach our first classes at Escuelita del Ritmo and the Aldea SOS youth center, as well as taking a traditional Pasa Pasa dance class! Tonight we are winding down with reflection, reviewing for our classes tomorrow, and of course, blogging here!
For the rest of the week we’ll be posting every day, each person sharing a few words about what was most meaningful, exciting, or challenging in the day. Stay tuned!
Ashley: The most thrilling part of the first day for me was to experience the architecture of Panama City, Old Panama City, and Casco Viejo. I found the colors and french influence to be breath taking and made sure to take as many pictures as I possibly could. The rushing of movement on central avenue was strangely soothing and I appreciated that!
Chareka: Today was fantastic! I truly enjoyed touring and taking pictures of Panama City. The food was delicious and the people here are polite and so welcoming. Panama is extremely diverse and today was such a great first day. Mei Ling, Nisha, Tinna, and Tio Rene’ are super encouraging and has made the transition from the U.S to Panama extremely smooth. I am looking forward to the many adventures here in Panama but most importantly, I am excited to teach and work with the children in the orphanages.
Elaina: My first day in Panama!:) I am so excited to be here and I cannot express how welcoming everyone has been. The food is so yummy and the architecture is gorgeous. I am so excited to begin teaching tomorrow. I can only imagine what an impact the youth will have in my life, and I pray that I can inspire them just as much as I know they will inspire me. I am truly honored to be a member of such an incredible organization!
Allyson: As always, the first day of arrival feels like a blur of new sights, smells, colors, sounds, and flavors. Mei Ling and Nisha and Tinna, our Panamanian counterpart from the University of Panama, have really been our anchors today. From welcoming us at the airport with huge smiles and hugs, to guiding us throughout the day, their positive energy and excitement can’t help but rub off. The air here is rich, thick with voices, music spinning out of open doorways, car horns, smells of fish and the ocean and delicious food cooking, and of course, the humidity! I can’t wait to keep soaking it all in for the rest of the week.
Molly: This is unreal! I cannot believe we’re in Panama. It feels like yesterday we were talking about this and now here it is! Walking around the streets today and taking it all in has been a beautiful experience. Soaking up the new sights and sounds has been a highlight of the day (and the food). I normally take a ton of pictures, but instead I’m taking in the moment and just soaking everything in that I can. I also took some voice memos today while walking around (stole the idea from Allyson) and my favorite sound of the day was a elderly man singing near the vendors. He kept repeating, “welcome to Panama” and it was perfect.
Michelle: I truly did not think that I would be here in Panama right now. Something vivid that struck me as I was taking the walking tour with the other girls was how grateful I was to be here and even though I did not fundraise the entire amount, every penny I spent was worth it. That moment was really important to me because I know that this trip is going to transform me. As nervous as I am, I am really excited for the coming week as well as learning from the kids as they learn from me. I’m excited to grow. Today was definitely a comforting and warm welcome to the coming craziness of the week. Altogether, today I feel grateful, hopeful, excited, nervous, and somewhat emotional about what this whole trip is going to become.
For all of us, today was about: Being present. Eating delicious food. Warmth (both from the weather and from others). Community. Gratitude. Feeling fantastic.