Emily was a student here at Casco Antiguo Spanish School for a two week Small Group Intensive Spanish Course. She is an engineering student from Colorado, USA, and was here in Panama for an internship with a non-profit organization that works in rural areas of Panama building bridges for communities isolated by heavy rains and growing rivers. The community members are involved in building the bridges, so it was essential that Emily learn Spanish before she set out into the field.
When we asked her how Casco Antiguo Spanish School helped her work in rural commuties, this is what she had to say:
She loved both of her teachers, and was impressed at how they tailored the content to her specific needs (she shared a couple of classes with an anesthesiologist and was very impressed that the teacher could hit both their linguistic needs despite how different they were). She loved her second week as well, with a teacher who brought loads of games and activities to the table, which made the 4 hours fly by while packed to the brim with language learning.
Because of this solid base she had in Spanish, she was able to make some amazing connections with the community members that helped make the bridge possible. She got to hear the story of a woman at 8 months pregnant forming part of a human chain to try to cross a flooded river and her fear of losing her unborn child in the process. Emily also formed friendships with and heard the accounts of countless school children who were forced, time and again, to wait out a flooded river in the cold and rain at night when trying to get home from school.
Emily has helped building projects all over, from post-Katrina New Orleans to Zambia and she found that with the added language skills she picked up at Casco Antiguo Spanish School her experience was enriched tenfold as she was able to contribute on a more personal level, and leave with better insight into the communities she worked with.
I had the pleasure of attending the inauguration of the last bridge that she helped to build. Her relationship with the community members was impressive, as was their appreciation of her hard work. Emily was able to laugh with the kids and share that incredible day. It was clear that a great bond had been forged with the people around her. One gentleman pulled me aside to say, “She is part of our community now, and getting to know her as she has helped us with this bridge has been wonderful, she will be a friend for life.” Or, for those of you who are game to practice: “Ella ya es parte de nuestra comunidad, y conocerla mientras nos ayudaba con el puente ha sido un gran placer, es una amiga para toda la vida.” We’re so happy Emily was able to apply the Spanish she learned in her two weeks at Casco Antiguo Spanish School to such an incredible cause.