Peace Corps Panama

Hello, welcome to my blog. I created this blog as I am preparing to leave to Panama for the next 27 months. I will be serving as a Sustainable Agriculture Systems Extension Agent. I will try to keep my blog as updated as possible. Come Visit and Stay tuned so that I can share this experience with you.

Hola, Bienvenidos a mi Blog. Me estoy preparando para ir a Panamá los próximos 27 meses. Voy a estar sirviendo como agente de Sistemas sostenibles de Agricultura. Tratare de mantener este blog lo más actualizado posible. Vénganme a visitar. Manténgase informados con mi blog para que pueda compartir estas experiencias con ustedes.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reality Bites....

When I was thinking about joining the Peace Corps and what my experience would be like...I didn´t envision a lot of the things that I am living right now. They warned that it was a difficult experience and that not a lot of people were cut out for it, but I didn´t know why they said that.

I think I´m beginning to understand...
It is a difficult experience because we come from an organized, timely, and results oriented society. Here, it is the total opposite. Things are never on time, never go according to the agenda, and lack of results is common and almost expected. Hardly anyone I´ve met this week ( in a government funded organization) and in my time in Panama are concerned with improving the organization they are in, or the place where they live. The minimum is done to get by.

Today we witnessed a castration of a piglet. Having the space, if they chose to use it correctly, to properly perform a castration, they opted for the easiest way; in the cage, holding the piglet with one hand, spraying iodine out of a old soap bottle, castrating all 3 piglets with the same knife...(i could go on if you like but i´ll spare you the details for now).

They kepted repeating throughout today`s presentations that these were not optimal conditions for these animals, and yet THEY WERN`T doing anything about it. That was the most frustrating part for me. Even with only a TINY bit of creativity and COMMON SENSE, these facilities would be running a lot better and efficiently.

Things that I find unbelievable:
Towns are flooded by insects brought about by garbage all around...and yet, they contribute to the problem EVERYDAY; Facilities and homes are falling apart and yet they wait until the roof falls or the place is completely irreparable before they do anything about it; Having fruits and vegetables in abundance ALL AROUND, rotting on the floor, they choose to eat 5lbs of rice a day, and insist on consuming diets that contain the recipete for DEATH.

The lack of motivation and COMMON SENSE definitly prevails in most of the monuments to failure that lie around Panama and all over the world, for that matter.

What I want to know is:
How can I help these people develope an interest in THEIR OWN LIFE, WORK, and WELLBEING?
Im not asking them to do it for me, help me improve my life...
Im simply asking them to want to better their OWN LIVES. I just don´t know how to help or teach someone how to want something that is good for them.

When they warned that this would be a difficult experience, they didn´t explain why because it must be difficult for an organization to admit that they are asking us to give up 2 years of our lives to come work with people that DON`T think they need help. Overcoming economic barriers is just the beginning when it comes time to deal with our communities. Overcoming the cultural mindset that life is the way it is and they don´t and can´t do anything about it, will be the most difficult part.

It is overwelming to think about the task that the next 2 years has in store for me. I have doubts sometimes that I can remain positive.

I am trying to see the good in all of the bad things that im seeing so that i can learn from them.
  • i never become a person who just does the minimum to get by, or who can´t think outside the box
  • i never let money stop me from improving things in my OWN LIFE.
  • that wherever I am and no matter how much time goes by, I never forget how frustrating it is to be surrounded by APATHY.
  • that I never run out of energy to do things RIGHT...the way they should be done.
I love you all and miss you dearly!

DISCLAIMER: though the content in this post may seem critical and slightly negative, it is not to be taken as any indication of my experience so far. It is just the reality in which I find myself. I will try to make the best out of it. No worries. ( and there is no spell check on this computer...sorry about spelling errors)


  1. flakita!
    ever since i meet you youve always been a very positive person and with a great smile on her face, you should try to spread that around and eventually it will spread to the people around you. when it comes to motivation, some times false motivation can get you through a difficult day, lol it does for some of the guys i work with and for my self most of the time. even on your most difficult day youll be fine and come out on top cause ull learn something new. I hope your ankle is doing better i wrote you in another post you made i dont know if you got to see it or not. well i wish you the best and i hope your ankle heals quickly.
    un abrazo, emilio

  2. The ancients warned us about this one: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." Even Jesus had something to say about this: "The harvest is plentiful but the reapers are few."

    Jonathan Mederos

  3. Hello from Dallas.
    This is what I know. You are a positive person. Emilio is right. smile, and learn to love. Ask questions. Through your friendship, you will have a better chance to affect change... and have change happen to you. You live in a village that can exist without the rest of the world. Learn from them.

    " you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
    all the best,
    Marybeth Reid

  4. Valeria,
    I reread my post and thought that I didn't do a good job of telling you how much I admire what you are doing. Use your natural ability to succeed in this challenge. You have so much to offer with your enthusiastic spirit.
    hugs from Texas,
    mb reid