The Perfect Balance

Growth: 9
Support: 9
Fun: 7
Housing: 8
Safety: 9

I really liked this trip because it gave the perfect balance of service work, adventure time, and relaxation, all while creating lasting relationships with my group members and the Panamanian people and experiencing things I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise. Of course it was scary at first, but this trip is also great because of the challenge it poses; to step outside a normal comfort zone and learn from the all geographically, socially, culturally, and intellectually different aspects. Each day we would wake up relatively early, but nothing crazy, for there was work to be done. We would start our day with breakfast and prepping for whatever project or adventure we would be doing, which we usually knew about the night before anyway. It was a really well organized trip but also flexible to the weather, attitudes, and varying aspects that influenced our plans. The most exciting part was definitely the week on the San Blas islands because it was where we really formed close relationships with our group members, while being in such a breathtaking environment with the truly welcoming and influential Kuna Yala people. Being on the islands was definitely a challenge because we were living in a more primitive area, but that's the whole point. We really had to live in the moment and be grateful for our lives at home and appreciate the differences between our cultures, yet the fact that they were happy in a different way. We helped them through our daily service projects, while they helped us step outside ourselves and learn about an amazing lifestyle. Being on the islands was definitely most influential because it was the first time we really were interacting with the people and using our Spanish speaking skills, which was really overwhelming at first. I found myself trying to be outgoing and start conversation, but getting really discouraged by my lack of fluidity and my shyness. However, I talked with my friends in the group and almost everyone had similar fears and set backs, but we kept trying and realized that was part of the experience. Soon I was able to forget the bad feelings and really put myself out there and have great conversations and just learn a lot about myself and the people. The homestay started off being slightly scary because after a week of becoming really great friends with our group members and always being together, we were separated and had to live with a Panamanian family where we solely relied on our Spanish speaking. However, I was with one other group member, and even though we weren't really close friends before, being put together with a family neither of us knew really forced us to work together and get to know each other, which I'm really grateful for now. In the homestay we would wake up every morning, eat breakfast, report to "la cancha" or the court where the entire group met, do service work in various areas of the town, break for lunch, come back and continue our projects. We also had days where we would work all day and play soccer with the locals after, or work half a day and play games at la cancha or have the day with our families, or explore the local forests. While this is where we did the majority of our service work, it was nothing too grueling and we could really see the beneficial impact of our work, and we still had plenty of time to explore and relax. One thing to be aware of is how we had to adapt to our homestay life. In Santa Fe, they wake up really early in the morning, like 4, and go to bed at the latest around 9, typically. However, the group members usually woke around 7, had to report to la cancha around 8, and went to bed by 8. It was actually quite nice. Also, the Panamanian family rarely ate meals with us; I'm still not sure why but I think that's pretty normal to not all eat together there. After the homestay we headed to the beach and had an amazing time soaking up the sun and learning how to surf. Not everyone liked the surfing, but everyone tried and it was so cool. I really felt I was living the dream getting to be there. Global works was great overall because not only did the find these great opportunities for the trip to go on, but they were really organized and really aware of what we needed as a group. We had lots of individual medical check-ins and lots of group activities after our day to see where everyone was emotionally, how to make things better, what we had learned, etc. Some of these activities were honestly kind of corny and annoying but in retrospect make a lot of sense. Three weeks seems like a long time the first couple of days, but after week one I never wanted to leave, week two I felt slightly homesick but knew my time was running out, and week three was definitely ready to go home, even though I didn't really want to leave. It was really just a great trip and there are only a few things I would change, but that's mostly personal in how I handled things, not global works. I would do anything to be back there!

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would