Juniors and Seniors who are taking Spanish III or IV are given the opportunity to travel to Panama for this year’s spring break. So far, 30 students are going.
“This is my first trip to Panama,” Spanish teacher J.J. Epperson said. “The past two years we went to Costa Rica, and before that we went to Puerto Rico.”
The trip will be a five day tour. The students will leave on the Sunday of spring break at midnight, and will come back that Friday at midnight.
Throughout the tour, students will be dropped off by buses at different places, where they will then spend the whole day exploring.
“It will be my first time out of the country,” Zachary Winget said. “That’s a little nerve racking to think about. I know I will miss my parents because they are a big part of my life, and they help me with almost everything. Going out of the country without them just makes me feel weird because they are usually there. However, I think I will be okay because this will help me step out of my comfort zone and grow as a person.”
The tour will consist of all sorts of activities for the students, including canoeing to an indigenous tribe village, helping rebuild houses, volunteering at soup kitchens, going to Panamanian homes to learn to cook dishes, visiting the Panama Canal, visiting the Carnauba tribe, and exploring the rest of Panama.
“It’s important for the students because, number one, they’ll realize how much Spanish they can actually use, and number two, it’s a first hand opportunity to see the world other than just Gibson County and the U.S.” J.J. Epperson said.
Not only will the students experience the cultural side of staying in Panama, but they will also try to speak only Spanish for the entire trip. This is a perfect opportunity for the students to circumlocute, where they will have to explain something they don’t know the word for, with the vocabulary they have learned in class.
“I don’t really know any Spanish, so that is going to be hard,” chaperone Valerie Zimmer said. “I feel like, coming from the standpoint of being a teacher and helping students, it’s going to be the other way around, where they are going to be helping me. Either way, we’ll see what happens.”
The students will be spending the night at San Blas Island, which is just east of the Panama Canal. There, they will stay in a hotel until their trip moves them to new places to explore. The students will be staying at a total of three different hotels throughout the whole trip.
According to J.J. Epperson, her students will also read Vector, a novel over the Panama Canal, before the trip. The students are expected to finish by the time spring break rolls around, and hopefully J.J Epperson will also be out of her boot by then.