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Local problems are global problems



18th of July, 2023


Panama II

Hi my name is Ellen Cabin and I am a rising senior from North Carolina. Today we had a leisurely morning before meeting with Niel Christiansen, the founder of Give and Surf. Then, in the afternoon we split into our groups and each went to work with our groups of kids. Three highlights today would be first, getting to sleep in for the first time the entire trip, second, getting my clean laundry back (YAY!!!!), and third, our delicious chicken taco dinner. In this evening’s group circle, we explored the ways that our field study here helps us see global issues in our own hometowns’ local issues. Essentially, we discussed how local problems are global problems. I see many parallels between challenges here and challenges back at home. One huge similarity is lack of motivation. A lot of the kids we work with aren’t necessarily interested in sitting down and learning and engaging with planned lessons. They have a very short attention span and would much rather play, which is understandable since they are young kids. At home, I have two very opposing perspectives, one being my friends and peers from school, which is a highly academic environment filled with affluent students, the other being my hometown friends who all attend the local public school. The two groups’ interests, thoughts, and activities are very different, and I definitely see that lack of motivation to learn in my friends from home, whose environment does not exactly encourage engaging in classes. Another big issue at the field site is resources. We have limited space, supplies, teachers, and more which I have also seen at home with little funding going into my area’s public schools. The third main similar setback I see between here in Panama and back at home would be a lack of education. The kids here do not have a good base and have missed years of already poor quality school due to COVID. At home, this is the same. My hometown friends are very behind where they should be due to COVID and their school’s success rates have plummeted. This difference is especially clear to me as I was lucky enough to attend boarding school when COVID hit and experienced a much less drastic blow to my education. Overall, the experience has been amazing so far and the work that Give and Surf is doing is truly inspiring. Of course there is a long way to go but I feel that our group is trying our hardest to make a positive impact with these kids and help give them the education and support they deserve.



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