Even though I loved my experience in Panama, arriving to Fayetteville, AR was very comforting. I never was ready to leave Panama though. A joke I would make was that I was going to stay for a year with the indigenous group and then come back home. A week or two with no netflix may have been pretty hard though.
Studying international business these past three weeks in another country has been a great personal and educational learning experience. Friendships and connections I made will not be taken for granted. I am thankful for the 14 new friendships I gained because of my decision to study abroad. I honestly don’t know if our group could have gotten along any better than we did. During group projects there was no feuding, restless days in meetings there was no fussing, and when we had time to ourselves we managed to still enjoy each others company. Our group friendship really made all the difference when it came to having a wonderful trip experience.
I started the International Business Seminar already excited about majoring in Supply Chain Management. This trip did nothing other than really clarify that I have so much to look forward to when learning more about the field. Supply chain business is continuously working for the improvement of business processes. After being in Panama and learning about the Canal expansion and how it will affect global shipping intrigues my future working with these decisions on an everyday basis.
Thank you Dr. Esper for putting together such a great program. I speak for all the students when I say that you were such a great instructor and made this trip not only fun, but really gave us an insight on the real business world. If anyone is considering studying abroad I highly recommend this program. It really was such an incredible experience.
Jonathan, another student on this trip came to Panama looking to experience Panamanian gourmet coffee. A few days ago we booked a flight to Boquete. The finest and most carefully selected coffee is grown in this city. Panama coffee has this taste to it that you know off the bat that it isn’t just Starbucks quality. After landing, our plan was to meet up with a guy who actually is the grandson of the man who started this farm in Boquete. Our trip to the central plaza where we were meeting Tony was the start of a very interesting adventure. Since the airport was about 45 minutes away from the plaza we knew a Taxi would be an expense that we would want to avoid. We took a taxi to the bus station, jumped on the bus that took us 40 miles all for $1.75. Once arriving we had a few hours to kill. Jonathan sparked a conversation with this man who looked like he had been living in Florida for all his life. This was the man to talk to. He has been living in Central and South America for over 10 years now and had so many thoughts on how segregated the poor are from the rich in this area. The way he told stories and gave us his take back being exposed to this culture for quite a while really stuck with me when looking at it from a non North-American way. We live very ethnocentric in the United States. We have an idea that our lifestyles are the perfect example of how every country should be. From what we are taught in education to how clean and symmetrical our houses and communities should be. Something that really stuck with me in our conversation was the way we use the phrase “America.” Just writing this blog I’ve caught myself multiple times categorizing the United States as the America. We label the United States as “America” but what about central and south America, they are just as much as American as we are. The man actually said people from central and south America do pay attention to this, and aren’t necessarily happy with our claim of America. Things like this I don’t even come close to thinking about and this is why I love travelling. There is something so rewarding about having more than just an United States mindset. We also ran into a group of students who were our ages. Their teacher had taken them to Boquete for the day to practice their English and improve their English listening skills. They just started learning English, not even close to being able to hold a conversation. I’m not saying anything because I took two years of Spanish and am on a level to where I can about say my name and where I’m from. What stuck out to me about this class was that they were dedicated and wanted to become fluent. Their teacher explained to us that he knows they will need to be able to speak English to have more success in their lives. Me only knowing one language I feel the same way. I don’t know how many times in these three weeks that I felt disappointed because I wasn’t able to have conversations with people or struggled doing the simplest interaction like ordering food. I really want to be able to speak another language and have the intention of doing just that. Tony came to pick Jonathan and I at the Plaza for a really brief tour of the city. He took us through the windy mountains, to a beautiful waterfall, and to see the natural rock climbing formations. He treated us to a really nice lunch in a beautiful part of the mountainside. Our conversation never was dull and he taught us so much about his family business. His farm does tours so we got to walk through the trees growing the coffee fruit along with the banana, plantain, avocado, orange trees scattered throughout. Our tour guide had all the jokes so our time on the tour was great. I could go on for hours about all the coffee knowledge I have now. It was incredible that one type of plain unroasted coffee bean sells for $100 a pound. When I consider Starbucks nice, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around that one. The tour concluded with a tasting of different coffee. I brought back some bags, no worries. I ran into a lady by the name Maria Ruiz in the coffee shop. After telling her our business of being in Panama, I asked her what she does for work at the Ruiz farm… I didn’t know her name at this point. She is the daughter of the owner, responsible for exports of their own grown coffee. That day we heard a few people mention her name and how she could talk off your ear about anything and everything there is to know about coffee. She was a no brainer super intelligent lady. Jonathan was more than thrilled to get to talk to Maria since she had time to spare for questions he had about his future business plan of Panamanian coffee in the U.S.. She made her cry of how farming decreases is really hurting the coffee farming industry. As of right now there is a shortage of people willing to work and hand pick the coffee beans. Currently a large percentage of the workers are indigenous Panamanians. The reason farming seems so unattractive in Panama is because you aren’t working living or working in the city. They make minimum wage ($1.20 an hour) and even are provided with their houses free of charge. People may like the idea of working in the city more than the farm but they wouldn’t have the housing benefit and also are living in areas highly clustered and are lucky to be even making the $1.20 an hour. That is what their family finds the hardest about maintaining a coffee farm. But let me tell you this, the Ruiz family is not living like any farmer does… They’re selling bags of coffee for $500 and tons of that a day. Like most Panamanians Maria was very cordial and openly friendly. She told us to email her for an internship, and that would definitely be something I would love. Working with coffee exports in Panama. I see a way right now that I would help their farm and profitability. They export coffee containers to the U.S. and have no backhaul coming back into Panama, she said so it’s a cleaner process. There has to be products that can be easily and with out mess can be brought back from the United States. That would increase their products by something that little as just finding what exactly it is to have imported back. Something I would definitely be interested in. Jonathan and I’s day was not anything less than amazing/weird/ almost unbelievable. We spent twelve hours in Boquete it felt more like one. Boquete is somewhere I hope I find time to travel back to in Panama, if I’m not brought back already.
We have arrived on the Atlantic side of the canal Colon, Panama. Bright and early we jumped onto the Passenger railway that runs parallel the the canal down across the country in 47 miles. Colon is known connecting the East coast of the United States with countries in Asia. Our visit included a stop to a larger port called Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT). Yesterday we had the chance to visit a lock which seemed so large and important which it is, but seeing vessels that can carry 2,000 full size containers is even more impressive. Cranes that were busy working to unload vessels are massive. A Panamax crane can reach across the width of 18 containers, and the Post Panamax cranes will have the capability to reach across 25 containers and cost anywhere from $7-$10 million. This will be a huge investment for the ports to be able to prepare for Post Panamax ships going down the canal. MIT is currently working to expand their operations already, not just to adjust for the larger ships, but because they are coming close to reaching their full capacity as a port. Something that is a little different about MIT from the other 4 ports is their accessibility to the Colon Free Trade Zone. We are visiting the free trade zone tomorrow so I’ll go a little more in depth on what I believe are the opportunities and downfalls of having that in Panama. For a port, this is seen as a huge competitive advantage when shippers choose which port they would like to use along the canal. Aside from the free trade zone bonus MIT was actually the pilot researcher of a remote cabin for the port operators. Port operators in locations all around the world look over their shoulder at the port from 14 floors elevated. A harsh working condition for such an important operator of the port seems like more investors would look into fixing the strains on their workers. MIT has worked on perfecting the remote cabin operation for 6 years and only a few others across the world have picked up on a potential automation advancement. Even though this technology is not fully developed at MIT it seems surprising that more ports haven’t prioritized something like this. This is why MIT as a port is a very progressive and have evolving operations as a competitive port of the Panama Canal.
Visiting the canal expansion process area was our other item on todays agenda. I feel like at this point I have heard so much about the infrastructure, geography, and impact on economies of scales for the Panama Canal expansion. Seeing it in person was actually real. A totally new lock system will be put into place for the two new Post Panamax accessible locks.There will be sliding doors instead of simultaneously closing set of doors for example. These doors were huge, to move them into place required a 500 wheeled remote control pallet. This project is massive. Thinking about the canal in the light of 1904, I see the reasoning for it to be a new world wonder. Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific ocean with a 26 above sea level height lake right in the middle of the to seas, with a lock system that raises water levels all by the idea of gravity. The system will still even be used today. The new lock systems will be a little more water conservation friendly. We looked down on men who looked like ants because of the incredible size of the expansion efforts and watched the project that will soon be finished. Having this opportunity in Panama I am watching history in the making.
Only 3 days left in Panama, but I’m still steaming.
Water carriers started a lot of the motion in supply chain visibility. What is visibility in a supply chain aspect? The capability to know the products current location allowing you to forecast when it will arrive at its destination. Since water carriers were an active transportation mode way before motors and airplanes and even railroads, they were the first and most important form of transportation. Motors and railroads are not capable of connecting the world globally. Airplanes obviously can ship overseas and are faster but there is a major tradeoff because how much more expensive it is. Logistics of a supply chain is so crucial. The Panama Canal expansion will strengthen water carriers by giving them a competitive edge between any intramodal competition. Growing technology and advancement of the water carriers (such as the Canal expansion) will really strengthen consumer relationships with global businesses and hopefully reduce the complexity within the global business aspect. This is to be taken advantage of in an international business prospective. This most important thing in my eyes is to reduce lead time and have water carriers continue to thrive intramurally. Quicker movements and infrastructure advancements are giving Panama what it needs to continue to grow in Maritime trade. The current Maritime Canal Share the Panama Canal is responsible for it 2.4%, which seems so small, but most water transport only goes from port to port with no canal needed. Benefits of the canal include reaching economics of scale, sustainability, connectivity, and reliability. Here is an economies of scale example that will come by expanding the canal. There are Vessels used today called the Post Panamax Vessels that are too large to fit into the canal. These vessels have the capacity to carry 13-14,000 TEU’s, the largest vessels that can be currently served by the canal “The Panamax” can only handle around 4,500 TEU’s. A huge question that comes with the expansion is if this expansion will even be worth it. It is unsure if these huge vessels will even be filled, just because ships can transport more, doesn’t mean the world is buying that much more. For logistics the post panamax ships will make unloading and docking more complicated with the expansion. Surprisingly containers still have no tracking technology. Both day and night a watchman has to physically identify the container by a code painted on the box. Imagine the complexity of having your dock operations increasing by 3x as much with only one boat coming in and 40 vessels go through the canal daily. Until today being so close to a ship personally did I really realize how huge these ships are, I sat in awe as they were driving through the Mariflores locks. Currently to service the Post Panamax vessels the Panama Canal Railway is transporting their containers from the Atlantic to Pacific ocean. Having the option of the Railroad, although increasing the touch points of your shipments, gives the world the option of shipping as one port, maximizing the connectivity and servicing these ginormous vessels. The Railway runs 47 miles parallel to the canal. There are companies that know of the expansion and stop using the railroad because they think the railroad will no longer be used since the canal will be able to attend to the Post Panamax ships, this isn’t true because they still have large numbers using the railroad as a service for distributing down and into Central and South America. Tomorrow we are riding the passenger railway to Colon, which is the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. Looking forward to telling you all about my experiences!
As ugly as it might look to you, all of us really were mesmerized by the operations of the canal. Also how little the infrastructure has changed since it opened in 1914 is quite amazing.
After a long and productive week, our group got to relax a little and explore the city by ourselves. Although on Saturday we all got to experience the Embera Village. Indigenous groups make up around 5% of Panama’s population today. A gondola took us through the land to our destination. Our ride took around 45 minutes, the greenery and solitude of the area really made me appreciate why they enjoy and continue to live in isolation to this day. We were greeted by Embera people who replicate how their family and ancestors lived before the destruction of their hunter-gatherer lifestyle after the construction of the Pan American highway. They still practice many of the original traditions today but for the tour gave us the more traditional versions of some things like their garments. They gave us the opportunity to dance with them after performing some of their group dances. Knowing that this wasn’t necessary all a show was more interesting to know. I actually met a Venezuelan who lives in Panama, he brought up knowing some Embera people. I told him that we actually went and toured their village today and I was reassured that they actually still live out there just a little more civilized than they showed us, but still very much so a continued practiced lifestyle. Meeting him has actually been a highlight of my trip. He has been a tour guide before so most questions I have he has been able to answer. On Sunday we had a free day, no obligations to businesses or tours. A few of us went up to Cerro Ancon. A larger mountain we have been driving past everyday on our way to the city. Their is a Panamanian flag at the very top, and it feels like from most anywhere you can see some part of the flag. My friend told me that while the U.S. had control of the Canal Zone, their was the American flag in the same exact place. To me that seemed a little too prideful. Anyways, our walk up to the flag was beautiful. There were many locals on this pretty Sunday afternoon who were biking up the mountain or walking like us, we figured this was a pretty common local destination. From the top you could see everything from the new city, Casco Viejo, and Port Balboa. I could have stayed their for a while. We travelled to Casco Viejo to have lunch, and this was actually the first rainstorm I have been caught in. Our group has been extremely lucky and hasn’t had any down pour experiences yet until yesterday. While we were sitting under outside umbrellas, I noticed that the locals really took light to how much they got poured on. I’m probably glad that I’m missing out on the rainy season this year. I ended up being drenched and humid the rest of the day, but it was an experience that I actually enjoyed. Later that day I met up with my friend, he took us around a little and really made me feel like I was getting a true Panama experience. A little less touristy, and a little more eye opening for the lives of the people living in Panama. Even though he has only been in Panama for 1.5 years after 10 years in the state, he sure knows the city. I am appreciative for hearing real stories about Panama, expanding my experience past what I can only simply observe in 3 weeks. Our last week in Panama has arrived. I know the week will go by so fast and I will be sad to leave Panama but I am taking in as much as I can before that time comes.
Constantly working is tiring obviously, but doing something you love should never be a hassle or inconvenience and in the end of the day you should be nothing but happy. The moment you wake up and dread going to work for this company you’re working for, you quit. A visit to 3PL companies CEVA & DHL really excited me on my future in supply chain management. think a tour to Ben E. Keith with my my sisters boyfriend really excited me about working with product distribution. Logistics has become increasingly important in the past 10 years. Anywhere from perfecting the routes from business to business, when the product will be received to the customer, visibility of where the product is at all times, reducing the middlemen in the process, etc. It seems like I could go on forever about how much the world of supply chain really has turned around competitive business strategy approaches. These two international companies are doing very well in Panama. Their distribution centers are both strategically located with in miles of Panamas airport hub and 30 minutes away from the Canal zone. Having this access to the geographic areas of sea, air, and land, makes great transportation processes. Panama also is a great location for value add operations. We will learn more in detail why this is next week, so I’ll tell you then, but this is service that CEVA is also adding into their work they do. Hearing the head of the branch talk about how he has worked his way up starting by loading freight into aircraft and doing his time on a forklift in the warehouse, made me want to start lifting weights and learn those processes for any future I may have in distribution. He said that really has been what he believes has made him successful. When customers come to him asking if they can load this type of freight on this type of carrier he knows what will work and what will not work. I think it would be really cool if I was ever to have a large title in a company to give my story about how I started off working a forklift in a warehouse. Haha that probably won’t happen because I can’t even bench the bar (all of 55 pounds) and something about a girl in a warehouse seems a little unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one, which doesn’t mean I couldn’t do it. Maybe I get a trucking license and travel cross country a year after I graduate. Imagine having the driver point of view of transportation. Anyways him speaking excited me about my future in the supply chain management field. DHL was also exhilarating. An HR guy who had only been there for 4 weeks spoke to us. The whole time he was speaking I would bust out in a laugh about every two minutes. I don’t know where this guy came from but I loved him. Their platform for success in the company is to strive to be the best company, not the biggest. HR laid this out for us really well. It made it believable that their Corporate Social Responsibility is important to them. Without connecting all 3 important business aspects what they laid out as “a provider of choice,” an “investment of choice,” and an “employer of choice” you can not be a complete business. Their initiatives for global impact are GO TEACH, GO GREEN, and GO HELP. Their company values really were let known while we were there. What I saw and heard from their stories and faces they really do possess these things to make their business thrive. There were smiling faces exchanged the whole time in-between their staff while speaking with us. I don’t know how you couldn’t be happy going into work everyday. Their interaction within a business day is also worked on to be very integrative, of course there are different titles, but HR let us know their only concern at the end of the day or week should be DHL. Maybe this HR guy was just really personable or I seriously want to work at DHL later on. They don’t have much of a presence in the US anymore, but hey what a good way to travel. The warehouse manager gave us words on supply chain that really was kind of different. Logistics world is based on exceptions. There is no manual for what request may be thrown at you but there is a way to find a way, but your commitment in the field is what you may find keeps you above competitors. Why supply chain has become so big in the last few years is because customers are expecting more and cheaper, and its up to your processes in the supply chain field to make that doable. Time is a huge factor in this, how quickly can you get this product there, and then your may run into road blocks. This excites me, thinking about supply chain and how little I know and how much I have to learn about it gives me a rush that I find similar to drinking Panamanian coffee (I’ll bring you back a bag mom). In order for you to be adaptable in the field requires resilience and poise, because you are bound to make mistakes in an every changing field, there is so much reliance on other companies to get your products there, ownership transfers, and what might not have been your mistake could have effected you, but it is your customer you worry about. Making sure they are satisfied and trust you more than anyone else are important in the world of logistics. Logistics isn’t about making profits, its about making your customers become more profitable. I have learned so much, but have so much more to learn. I believe that I have entered a field that I will find that happiness everyday when I go into work. Times are exciting for supply chain management.
Exploring the great country of Panama, one of the first things I really recognized about it being so different was the retail sector. The first thing our trip did after landing was go to a grocery store on our way to the City of Knowledge. The store didn’t feel as like it was an actual store to be buying groceries in. It was way more crowded and seemed to be set up sort up junky. We had the chance to listen to stories from the owner of a competitor store, Mario Martinelli Jr.. Martinelli is a Walton College of Business Alum and related to the former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli. He isn’t in great health, but could tell he was prided on us coming to listen to him speak about his success story of the leading supermarket in Panama, Super 99. Something about his status in Panama made you feel like what advice he gave us we should really take to heart. So what did he believe we should do moving on in the business world? He let us know that it isn’t easy to become successful in your career and it takes more than you 9-5 job to really stand out. This coincides with Dr. Espers speech the previous day. Business is all a controlled risk. There is research that can be done to see if certain business innovations and ideas can work, but you won’t really know until you see it done, either failing or succeeding for yourself. Taking that risk is what will set you or your business apart in the long run. I believe Panamas consumers really make it hard for a company to make it big. With people here being penny and nickel consumers, It’s hard to have high profit margins. Regardless of consumer buying in 2014 Super 99 had over 800 million in sales. Pretty good considering they sell 10 cent bananas around every corner and Pineapples in the medians of a road. Listening to Martinelli not only interesting because of his status in Panama, but because hearing someone talk from personal experience about Panama retail really was beneficial to get to know Panamanian culture just that much better. We also visited an international retail provider, Proctor and Gamble. Latin America is responsible for 10% of P&G sales, America does 39% of their sales. P&G sees their business in these Latin American countries growing more and more. I have been so intrigued by the Colgate vs. Crest in Panama. 80% of the toothpaste market share is Colgate, P&G’s toothpaste competitor. A representative at P&G gave us a statistic that 70 out of their 80 brands are leaders in their segments and they focus on these 70 products. Crest is one of those core leaders. How are they working to develop Crest in Panama? They aren’t, they focus on their other brand of toothpaste Oral B. It seems so crazy to me that Colgate clearly dominates the market here, I am curious to why. How did they become so dominant when America seems to be split straight down the middle of leading brands. Visiting a public and private company was good when focusing on Panama retail. Although yesterday is what really got me really excited about studying abroad in Panama.
Pan AMCHAM has been a Panamanian Organization for 35 years, promoting bilateral trade in between Panama organizations and other business. They serve as a networking and advertising opportunity for organizations that are looking to expand their businesses. Around 450 companies are involved in Pan AMCHAM. Panama we have learned has many global business opportunities that spark interest from other foreign investors. Panama is safe, has political stability, there is a GDP consistent economic growth, low inflation, and low unemployment are a few attractive qualities that set Panama apart in adding a foreign business branch inside of this Latin American country. Pan AMCHAM gives great opportunities that are looking to expand their operations as well. The trade and investment center work as a facilitator to continue the Panama and U.S. free trade agreement as well. Later in the afternoon we had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Embassy. There were of course high security measures we had to go through before we could enter into the Embassy. We enjoyed listening to Americans discuss why they became involved in working for the government and how much they enjoy being abroad for a few years at a time. Americans come to the Panamanian Embassy a lot for advice on opening a business in Panama because of the great opportunities that are arising from a business perspective in the country. Since Panama is one of the safest countries of Latin America, the 4 representatives we spoke to really seemed to enjoy their work here in Panama. They are lucky enough to be able to walk down their street to work never feeling threatened. Also the happiness of their jobs they claim is the reliance on flexibility of their own personal lives. If you are married your spouse is able to relocate with you and more often than not provided with a job at the Embassy as well. Never had I thought about the logistics there is within an Embassy. Just a while back President Obama came and visited Panama and the canal. There is a process of planning for 8 months in advance of all different scenarios and situations that can happen once he arrives in a new country. They said 8 months planning was even short notice. When and Where (the questions of logistics) are a major aspect when it comes to Embassy planning, hmm… maybe that would be a fun occupation to look into. I definitely could do 15 years of traveling!
Dr. Esper was invited to speak to a college in Panama City tonight by friends he has met through CSCMP. He got invited by Panamanian time, it just came up as of yesterday. The meeting was at 6:30 so we left at 5:30 to account for traffic. The ride home took approximately 15 minutes but took us an hour and half with our bus driver skipping major traffic backups. Rush hour is insane in the city. People were on the side of the street selling personal pizza’s during stand stills, making a lot of profit, what entrepreneurs. Dr. Esper gave a wonderful speech about a crisis of young SC talent. I won’t tell you his tips, I’ll keep his expertise secrets to my self : )
We spent today learning about the banking sector of Panama. I couldn’t really think of a clever title to do with banking or money really, so let’s say I learned a lot and so my time was valuable. It really was though. I believe I learned a lot from these lectures based around banking in Panama, and surprisingly the people who talk to me never lost my attention. Although in Accounting and Finance introductory classes I sort of just did enough to get by. You could say I never really was interested in learning about the Federal Reserves or monetary systems. You could look up what Panama currency is and many information sources or Wikipedia might tell you their currency is the balboa. While they still have quarters, dimes, and Balboa dollar pieces, their main currency is the U.S. dollar. I really didn’t know what it meant for an independent country to not have their own currency until we had the opportunity to speak to many important business men and women about the banking system in Panama. Our first stop was the clearing house in Panama. They are a section of the Banco Nacional de Panama, and oversees all the transactions done in Panama. Otherwise the clearing house works sort of as the data warehouse for all checks generated in the country communicating to all banks private or public. Over 65,000 of checks are cleared a day through the department. An employee of the clearing system told us that people that of Panama still prefer checks over electronic transactions. Checks in America are almost extinct, it seems so much more of a hassle to write out checks for transactions. Not only on the consumer side, but on businesses and banks as well. Although Panamanians still prefer an old fashioned check, the banks are just now catching up to electronic check system. They project by in a year check systems will be updated to 100% electronic. Which will make it easier on the banking side to catch fraud and hot checks. They are still checking for inconsistencies of signatures by observing some physical checks. Our next stop was headquarters of Banco Nacional de Panama. The Banco Nacional de Panama is the largest Public bank in Panama. They are responsible for commercial, individual, and government banking. Since it is the government bank, Panama is directly influenced by the U.S. economy. There is no determination on inflation or policy by a federal corporation other the the U.S. Federal Reserve. Surprisingly as proud of their culture and country as Panamanians seem, they seem grateful to be under our Monetary Policy. As part of Latin American they see this as a competitive advantage and sets them apart.
Our group then went to a private company MMG (Morgan and Morgan Group). A private group that specializes in legal, banking, and trust services. By far this was the nicest place we have visited, the office appeared to be everyones dream job. Beautiful architecture and art, and a view of the Downtown Panama skyline, nothing but impressing. We learned more about Panama’s economy here. While around 75% of Panamas GDP is service industry a larger portion of that being Canal transportation, somewhere around 9% of U.S. GDP comes from Logistics and Transportation cost. It is obvious how large of an effect the Canal has to do with the Panamanian economy especially logistical impact. Since there are not many exports out of Panama, having such high service level profit, makes up for the lack of their exports. 9% of Panama’s GDP is banking. For how small the country seems, just a little bit larger than the state of Arkansas, that is impressive especially because how U.S. based their monetary policy is. We also learned at our visit at MMG that there are 35 million vessels registered in Panama which makes a lot of sense. MMG owns around 36% of those, very impressive.
Our day was jam packed of really informative lectures. Learning just a little bit about the effect of the Panama Canal on their economy really excited me for next week.
This weekend our group got to experience the interior of the country. Trying to really get a perspective of the country really isn’t obtainable only experiencing the largest city of the nation, so we all jump into a van and explore. Our first major stop this past Thursday was to a high school, Instituto Nacional de Agriculturea (INA). This is a government funded school program for students anywhere from 15-18 years old. There are a few requirements to be admitted to the program, there is a GPA requirement as well as you must show an interest to learn agriculture techniques. What I found the most interesting was that in the last year or so the government is investing over $80 million more into the institution. This will have the potentially have an incredible impact on Panama’s agriculture advancement and interest. Like a problem we have in America, as technology is increasing, the interest for younger generations to go into a field such as farming is decreasing more and more. With a school that puts so much energy into teaching teenagers both formal education as well as agriculture techniques, students earn a national and global recognition. As a graduate from INA colleges, especially in Panama, really work with those students making higher education more accessible. In several of our lectures we have had these past few days, the need for water reservation techniques have clearly been preached. Panama has two seasons, wet and dry. The man we spoke to at INA believes this is a huge problem that needs to be worked on in the agriculture industry because there is so much of it not at use. On the road again, we get to stop by the oldest church in the Western hemisphere in the city of Parita. Other than the little sneak we took from an open side window, we just took pictures with the old rustic church. I attached a picture of below. The church is still operating and its nothing but a little white church on a street with traditional colorful Latin American houses. Our next stop we head for the small town of Chitre. We all quickly recognized that money goes a little bit further deeper inside of the country. This made for a nice get away weekend. Thursday we got to interact with the locals, and Friday we enjoyed the beach at Chitre. Saturday morning we headed to another beach La Playita, a little further down into the country. No wifi or cell phone service made for bonding that we all really enjoyed. This resort was amazing, but the wild life was nothing other than interesting. Emu’s were walking around, wild monkeys hanging from the trees, parrots talking away. We were isolated, but not alone. Sunday morning I seemed to enjoy my time at the beach by myself the most. I walked up and down the beach collecting shells washed up by high tide along the way. The cove was so secluded, it was a nice get away from Panama City. Sunday night we arrived back at the City of Knowledge where all of us got to regroup and get ready for a busy week in the city.