When I first signed up for the Panama trip, I was going to be closer to my dad. I wanted to see the country where he had lived and worked for 3 years, without any real consideration for the impact of the work I was going to be doing. However, now that I have been to this beautiful country, I am more aware of the importance of increasing awareness of the mangroves and the environment in general.
By Margaret Ritsch, APR
Wetlands International Latin America Caribbean is hoping to create a partnership with an elementary school in Remedios, a tiny village near the coast in the province of Panama. With several partners, the organization has begun a mangrove-climate change project in the region that will involve scientific research, influencer outreach, education and micro-enterprise support.
"I cannot imagine a world without mangroves." Dayana Valerin’s face expressed concern for the many obstacles that the mangroves face. As mayor of the city of Remedios in Chiriquí Province, it was a privilege to be able to meet Dayana.
I have never been one to have great concern for the environment. I would recycle when I remembered and I would pay attention to climate change, but I never took much interest in environmental concerns. After working with Wetlands International and traveling in Panama I have completely changed my mind.
Today Wetlands International took my group to a school in Remedios to present the mangrove project. The school children were so excited to see us and welcomed us with open arms. The children preformed a traditional Panamanian dance for us before we began the presentation. During the presentation, Wetlands International emphasized the benefits of mangroves and why the children should be dedicated to protecting them. The main idea is that the children should protect the mangroves, for the mangroves protect the children.
I have been researching mangroves for months in preparation for this trip. I thought I knew all about the mangroves and their benefits. However, landing in David changed my perspective. After today, mangroves are not just an object of research, but real, tangible plants. Mangroves are stunningly beautiful, and in all my research I had not come across an article detailing their beauty. Mangroves are referred to as gentle giants for their grace in and out of the water, and for the protection they provide for the villages. I am grateful for the chance to see these majestic mangroves up close and personal.
In a few days. I will have arrived in Panama to study abroad with TCU’s student-run agency, Roxo. I can’t wait for the adventure to come!
In a few days I will travel to Panama with Roxo to work with Wetlands International. I travelled to Argentina a few years ago and I loved the new culture I was immersed with. I loved stepping outside of my comfort zone in Argentina and I am excited to do it again in Panama. I expect this trip to challenge my Spanish speaking in a good way. I consider myself fluent in Spanish because I have been speaking it all my life. Fun fact: It’s actually my first language. Panama might have different slang words compared to the slang words I know or might speak at a faster rate than I am used to. Instead of being scared of change, I am ready to embrace it and work on my Spanish.
As Roxo’s trip to Panama approaches, I am both incredibly excited to journey to Panama for the first time and anxious to put together a great video for Wetlands International. Wetlands International’s mission statement is this: “Wetlands International is the only global not-for-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands. We are deeply concerned about the loss and deterioration of wetlands such as lakes, marshes and rivers. Our vision is a world where wetlands are treasured and nurtured for their beauty, the life they support and the resources they provide.” My biggest hope for my trip to Panama is that I am able to capture how dedicated Wetlands International is to conserving wetlands, as well as the passion of the people behind the non-profit.
I’ve always wanted to travel to Central America to experience the culture, diversity, and beauty that the countries have to offer. This trip to Panama marks my first time traveling to Central America, and I am overjoyed to be able to have this opportunity. I want to ensure that I take the time to truly immerse myself in the culture and see the world from Panamanians’ perspectives during this week-long adventure. An important part of achieving this goal is understanding the environmental problems that Panama faces. I have always been passionate about the environment, so I am excited to be able to focus on mangrove restoration and sustainability by working for Wetlands International.