Jasmine Mabry ’22
I was asked to sum up my time abroad in Panama to be shared with you all, but that’s a very hard thing for me to do. You know those times when you are just completely speechless and in awe of everything that’s happening around you? Well, that’s exactly how I felt my entire time in Panama. From the time we boarded our first flight (which was my first flight ever), to the last night spent with some incredible new friends. Panama was nothing less than an absolutely, breathtaking experience.
One of the reasons it was such an incredible trip for me was because we had the opportunity to visit many farms while abroad. Agriculture is something I am very passionate about, so it was incredible to see it from a completely new perspective. Along with that, it was very interesting to see how important agriculture was to the Panamanian people. Most families had some type of food producing animal so that they’d be able to provide for their own families (subsistence farms). It was incredible to see how hard working and dedicated each farm owner we visited was. They wanted nothing more than to produce the best products they could with the information they had been given.
Some of my favorite parts of this trip were our visit to the Instituto Nacional de Agricultura (INA), the hike I was able to go on, and seeing some of the deep historic roots of Panama. INA was an agricultural school that students had the opportunity to apply to. INA had everything from a fish farm, to coffee beans, and even livestock animals that the students were in charge of taking care of. On the sixth day of our trip we had a free day. I chose to take a hike, and that was probably the best decision I could’ve made. Having the opportunity to be so close to the exotic Panamanian nature was absolutely incredible. I had the opportunity of seeing an abandoned castle, which there were many stories about. I also got see a sloth and trogons (a rare bird species). Lastly, I had the privilege of going through the canal. It was incredible to be able to go through something so historic, and important for Panama and many surrounding countries.
Panama was the perfect first experience abroad for me. I hope that one day I can return and gain even more knowledge about their agricultural practices, soak up some more history and hike for some more incredible views. Until that day, I’ll cherish all the incredibly fun and crazy memories I have. For instance, I’ll never forget having to ride five hours on a bus because our flight reservations were somehow lost, or having our boat ambushed by monkeys, or even sitting outside eating soup while it was 120 degrees. These are memories I’ll never forget, because they made my time in Panama with the best group of people so much sweeter.
Thank you Jasmine for sharing your education abroad experience with us!
If you are an ACEL student who has participated in an education abroad program and would like to share your experience, email firstname.lastname@example.org.