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Cultural Differences Emerge


16th of July, 2022


Panama II '22

Travel Journal

Today was a relaxing day in Panama! We had a beach day that started off with a 45 minute boat ride followed with snorkeling adventure. While in the water, I noticed that the ground I was standing on was all dead coral. This made me realize the dangerous condition our oceans are in. We relocated to Zapatilla Island which is a national park. We swam in the crystal clear water and had a great conversation with Julie about marine ecology. Julie is originally from Costa Rica, and she explained how her aunt and her mother had always taught her to pick up her trash rather than throw it in the ocean. When she moved to Bocas three years ago, she understood that people here weren’t raised like her. We asked her why the coral is dying, and she said it was mostly due to lack of knowledge from locals here about how trash affects the ocean. We responded to this by asking if she thought locals would change if they knew the harm they are causing to our ocean. Her response was really shocking to me and I think many others in the group. She said that to be honest she does not know if it would make a difference. This surprised me because I would have thought that the locals’ proximity to the ocean would drive them to try to protect the ocean. Trying to grapple with this was hard for me since, like Julie, I’ve also been taught to clean up after myself. I really had to take a step back and realize the cultural difference and that we have been exposed to an extremely different situation. Overall, today I learned a lot, and I look forward to continuing to learn.





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