AFS Year and Semester High School Abroad in Panama

Video and Photos

About Program

Study abroad in Panama to skyrocket your Spanish by living with a host family and attending a local high school. With one of the highest literacy rates in the region, you will be surrounded by peers who are eager to learn and teachers who are eager to help. Your local volunteers will also organize activities that may include trips to the San Blas islands on the Caribbean coast and the Panama Canal.

Along your journey, you’ll notice the vast diversity of Panama. You’ll pass areas that are bustling commercial centers, as well as lush tropical landscapes dotted with small villages. No matter where you are, you’re likely to find colorful markets with fresh fruit juice carts lining the streets.

Each region in Panama also hosts its own festival with music and dancing. The whole community takes part in the preparation and celebration. Panama is an ideal place to step outside of your comfort zone, become a cultural insider, and engage in an exciting new adventure.

Gap community service: The vast majority of Panamanians are mestizos, people of mixed indigenous and European descent. The remainder is a diverse mix of West Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and American people, a sign of the international commerce that the Panama Canal attracted. This program gives you the opportunity to share in and contribute to the life of a community in Panama by living and working alongside its members in a community-based service organization. You will be placed with an organization based on your personal interests and experience, and will have the opportunity to learn new skills that will be useful across a broad spectrum. Past participants in Panama have worked mostly at rural primary schools doing manual tasks, building and refurbishing classrooms and other facilities.

Summer community service: This four-week program will give you a glimpse into Panamanian life through working alongside friends to make a difference in a community. Panamanian food reflects the influence of the different cultural groups that have settled in the country. Rice is the staple of the diet and meals also may include meat, beans, platanos (a type of starchy banana) and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots and cabbage. This program gives you the opportunity to share in and contribute to the life of a community in Panamá by living and working alongside its members in a community-based service organization. Community service will take place each morning at a nearby elementary school. Activities could include working with the students or helping with the upkeep of the grounds.

Summer global prep: This summer, join the AFS Group Program in Panama for a two-week international culture and service program. Take part in cultural activities, tour the Panama Canal, and visit the Emberá indigenous community. A truly life-changing experience, this one-of-a-kind program will allow you to transform community service into global service. You will have the opportunity to stay with a host family while in Panama. By spending time with your family in the evenings and on weekends, you will have the opportunity to further improve your language learning and learn about local cultures. This immersion offers a unique way to skyrocket your learning by placing it in immediate context.

Program Highlights
  • Immerse yourself in Spanish – the best way to become fluent.
  • Make connections and memories you'll never forget with other AFS exchange students from all over the world.
  • Live with a host family to deepen your immersion and connection to Panamanian culture. If you’re like most AFSers, you won’t want to leave this second family and home.
  • Sample delicious Panamanian cuisine, including carimañolas (stuffed yuca fritters) and chicha, (a sweet, cold beverage).
  • Become a global citizen. Gain intercultural communication skills. Build your college and career resume. Help create a more peaceful, understanding world.

Program Reviews

9 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 66.67%
  • 7-8 rating 33.33%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 9
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly Recommended

My semester in Panama in high school started my love for languages and the world. It set me on the path to living in many other countries and studying cultures and languages in college. I learned the power of hospitality and tolerance and gained a second family and group of friends. AFS is so unique because it's a volunteer run organization and that means that the support staff and host families truly care. I miss Panama so much!

3 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

AFS Panama Set Me on my Path

This abroad experience in high school was formative in my growth as a teenager. I now work in international exchanges, because of the overwhelmingly positive experience I had on my semester abroad with AFS. Intercultural experience is so important - I learned so much as an exchange student, and while it wasn't all easy by any stretch of the imagination, through the challenges of going abroad I grew as a person.

2 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Panama Community Service

Dolega Panama AFS went out of their way to give our group a fantastic experience. A great mix of community service, learning, culture, and fun. Can’t say enough good things about my experience. We cleaned, painted and scraped a classroom in an elementary school. We learned traditional dancing while dressed in traditional clothing. We visited a sugar cane production farm. Our host family has continued to be a part of our lives.

What would you improve about this program?
I understand it no longer exists. How sad. I would love to be a group leader again.
1 person found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers