After a quick pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C., I flew to Panama with a group of about 50 future volunteers who will be going through training with me. As the 73rd set of volunteers to be sent to Panama, we make up Panama Group 73 and I am already amazed by how incredibly intelligent, diverse, and compassionate everyone is.
Though for past few days we've been living just outside of Panama City while we go through administrative meetings and paperwork, this morning we are moving to the campo, the countryside, to live with a host family as we complete training during the next 9 weeks.
To acquaint us with Peace Corps Panama, Group 73 split into our two sectors (Sustainable Agriculture Systems and Environmental Health) and visited volunteers who work in those sectors. My group spent the day with an incredibly successful volunteer who is working on projects with fish and rice tanks, plantains, coffee, and other vegetable farming.
The farmers who work with Jim were with us throughout the day, and you could tell they were so proud of what they have accomplished and so appreciative of Jim's efforts. The visit made me more excited than ever to find out which community I'll be working in and get to work!
Unfortunately, that information won't come for another 6 weeks or so because the Program Managers have to really get to know all 50 of us and decide where we as individuals could have the greatest impact. I'm crossing my fingers for plantation management (either coffee or cocoa) or something in Eco-Tourism, but I would honestly be happy with any position I get to put my business skills to use in.
I'm looking forward to sharing all of my adventures in Panama with you over the next 27 months!