Selena Martineau ’19 , Muffy Mazambani ’20, and Zo Williams ’19 share a day in the life of a student who attends Escuela de San Jose, a small rural school in Panama.
We trekked on foot from the Centro Mamoni to the nearby village in the blazing sun with the steep hills and rolling pastures that opened before our eyes. We wrestled with riddles as we dared to test our perseverance. And finally, when we arrived at the school, we were greeted with shy faces but warm hearts.
After a spirited game of duck, duck, goose, or more commonly known as pato, pato, ganzo, students from both schools opened up. Despite the language barrier, the students did their best to introduce themselves to their new friends. This new friendship was fortified through the planting of cucumbers and tomatoes followed by an intense game of tackle: where the two-foot tyrants dared to pull the Deerfield students to the ground.
Energy was then revitalized with a fresh meal, water, and good company. After some relaxation, the kids rejoiced and celebrated over a game of football (translation, soccer). The game ended in a tie, students departed, and one child left on his horse, a common mode of transport for rural Panama. Although we lacked clear communication, an incomparable bond was formed. Despite being the volunteers at their school, the students of Escuela de San Jose were the ones that taught us more valuable lessons and we will always remember the children’s bright smiles.