Hardships in Panama City

March 9, 2010 | Yvonne, intern, Panama, Radio y Television Educativa Panama

Much has changed since I posted by first blog back in January.

Although I was quite hopeful that my job would be an eye opening experience that would be filled with new and exciting adventures, it has sadly become increasingly more frustrating. Before I left, I was told that when I was contemplating writing on this message board, I should try to see the positive aspects within every bad situation. But as I look back at the two months I have spent here at my job placement, I realize that searching for the diamond in the rough has become difficult.

Overall, I have fallen in love with the people that I work with. My boss is an amazingly nice guy and everyone at the office has gone out of their way to try and make me feel comfortable at my placement. However, I have slowly realized that my placement here in Panama City was never ready to receive a student. From the moment I arrived here my boss had no real idea of what to do with me. There was never a discussion about learning objectives, goals or future projects and when I did ask for work my boss informed me that I should read a newspaper. Don’t get me wrong, the first couple of weeks I was fascinated with going out with producers and cameramen. I got to see how hard hitting news was filmed and felt very blessed to be part of the process. But as time went on, the excursions out of the office became minimal and I was left staring at a computer for the whole day. It got to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore and confronted my boss. He was supportive and said that as a side project I could write, film and edit my own project. Although it has nothing to do with my studies, I chose to do a project on Tourism in Panama City.

Last week I was accompanied by a camera man to film the old part of Panama City (Casco Viejo) for my segment. It was truly invigorating to be in front of a camera. On Thursday I had arranged to come back to Casco Viejo to interview 4 different Americans who had opened up a hostel in Casco Viejo. That morning I woke up with a sharp pain in my stomach and a yearning to stay in bed and sleep. I knew I had an interview, so I dragged myself out of bed and called a cab to drive me to work. At work, I sat around for two hours until my boss finally told me that all the cameramen were busy and I would have to postpone the interview. At that point I grew more frustrated with the lack of structure within my placement. Today I am scheduled to go back to Casco Viejo and interview the Americans. I was told that a cameraman is available to take me, however nothing is set in stone until you are in the car driving to your destination.  

I do not want to fill my whole blog up with negativity. Through out my internship I have fallen in love with Panama. On weekends and days off I have enjoyed exploring and discovering the different parts and neighborhoods within Panama City. I had even looked up the history of the city when I had nothing to do at work. I have learned about the tumultuous history of Panama and have become fascinated with the numerous hardships that this small little country has faced.  I have also focused some of my energy to develop a firmer grasp on the Spanish language. Nowadays I can sit down with a Panamanian and have a decent conversation without any “umms” or short pauses. But above all else, I have fallen in love with my host family. I could not have been put in a better house and have come to consider them as my second family. Their openness, kindness and support have been a shining beacon through the storm and I do not know what I would have done without them.

My placement has taught me that hardships are something that you will have to endure through out your life. My time in Panama has been littered with misfortune but I have always tried to keep my head up high and consider the positive within the negative. I have also realized that if you want something done, the only person that you can rely on is yourself. Out of all the people that I spoke to, I know that the only person that can inflict real change is myself.  Hopefully I will somehow be able to move past this and try to make the best out of the rest of my time here in Panama City.

Hasta Luego



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