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Embracing Diversity


Daisy P

15th of June, 2022


Panama I '22

Bocas del Toro is not a place with one kind of people; there are so many islands and not a single one is the same. We have had the opportunity to visit the islands San Cristobal, Bocas de Toro (the main island), and Bastimentos. We are currently staying at the island Bastimentos. At first I thought the people of all the islands were very similar and the languages as well. But that was not the case. I got the privilege to work at the island San Cristobal. The kids there are very lively and there are many of them. The kids only speak Spanish and know very few English words. It is tough to make a schedule for the day because you never know what the kids are going to want to play. We have done many activities like soccer, frisbee, bingo and even basketball (they play with a hoop made out of sticks and a kickball). All kinds of craft like painting, coloring, drawing, and even some English. The kids on San Cristobal are so wild, energetic, young, and affectionate.

Unfortunately today we couldn’t go to San Cristobal and went to our local Bastimento center instead. Immediately you could tell the difference between the centers. There were already less kids there and I had no clue what language to talk to them in. There was a mix of Spanish, English, and French. They were organized and attentive. I taught many of them a fairly difficult craft but they got the hang of it pretty easily. These kids are very creative and playful. At Bastimentos the kids are on average older and they look completely different than the kids at San Cristobal. These kids are a family and the closest one I have ever seen. Everyone helped each other and included one another. It has truly been an experience to be able to see these two different worlds that are so close to each other. This shows the diversity found here in Bocas. You would think that was all but these aren’t anything in relation to their native languages.

After getting to know Eddy (he’s been working with give and surf for 12 years now) I learned that the native tongue was the Ngobe language ( fun fact: kids are not allowed to speak this language in school and it has made it increasingly hard to preserve this language). It had nothing to do with any of the languages heard around the islands. Did you know that these indigenous people have original Ngobe names but have to come up with a new one so others can pronounce their names? Today a lot of us got to experience only two sides to Bocas. These two sides are nothing like one another and demonstrate the diversity found in Bocas. It is wild how different one place could be. It is an experience one could never forget.



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