On June 27th, 2012, I had an extra-early wake up time of 5 am in order to meet my colleagues and car pool to Aguadulce, where we would be giving presentations to high school students about Centennial College.
It was a three hour drive, one-way, to get to Aguadulce (which translated literally, means “Sweet Water”). The trip took us through a mountain range and right by the ocean. I would have enjoyed much more of the trip there had I not gotten car sick about an hour in, taken a Gravol, and fallen fast asleep. Lisandro (my coworker who was driving) did get a picture of me sleeping however, so I guess I offered amusement and entertainment for my coworkers, just as Panama has provided me.
Upon arrival to this quaint little town, we promptly got lost. However we met with two local high school students, one who’d already gone to Centennial for English Language Training, and one who will be flying in two weeks to attend Centennial’s English Language Training Program, and they directed us through the maze of small streets to find the high school. Beautiful scenery the whole way!
We gave two presentations to two separate senior-year classes. Each presentation was about 45minutes to an hour, and included our formal introduction, some general information about Centennial, a promotional video, and answering a million questions that it felt like the students had. They were very interested in coming to Canada to study, after our presentation. It’s the norm in Panama for international schools to promote in Panama, but most of the schools are from the United States, and this is where most students automatically think of studying; we try to change that perspective, and show them what Canada has to offer.
This group of students spoke a fairly good level of English, also (which is unusual!), and upon the prompting of my coworkers, which, up until this point I have ignored or avoided out of fear to present in Spanish, I took charge of the presentation and spoke about student life on and off campus, and about being a Canadian student.
After the presentation, I was delighted to hear feedback that my clear and slow speech was understood by the students, and they were excited that they could understand a Canadian speaking English. I share similar feelings; I’m excited that I can understand the majority of what they say in Spanish! It’s a mutual learning experience, one might say. 🙂
After the presentations, knowing that we’d be hitting rush hour on our way back, we stopped for lunch. I had a traditional Panamanian meal called “Ropa Vieja”, literally translated, “Old Clothes”. It was much more appetizing than its namesake; a shredded beef stew with rice and some coleslaw on the side, it was yummy and very satisfying.
On the way back, true to Panama’s form it got dark at around 6:30pm, but I got to watch the sunset as we drove through the mountain range; even better, I didn’t get car sick.