This past week was our first time in San Miguel. It’s about a 50-minute car ride from the city of Panama, but you wouldn’t believe it once you arrive because it’s such a different vibe than the city. San Miguel is the closest pueblo to the valle. Five of this semester’s interns are going to be spending the majority of their time in San Miguel and the valley and of us five, four make up the San Miguel Outreach team, SMOT. I’m one of those four. Our work, as outlined by Kalu Yala is to:
Work with the local people form the rural towns surrounding Kalu Yala’s site…to develop and strengthen community and business institutions that can support the sustainable development of the region alongside the growth of Kalu Yala…to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the San Martin communities and Kalu Yala.
San Martin is the county. San Miguel is one small pueblo within it and the closest to the Kalu Yala site. This semester we will be residing and working in San Miguel for four days each week. The remaining days will be spent in the city or traveling. So, this past week in San Miguel we did a lot of reading, familiarizing, and a little exploring. We have now started to develop what projects we will be doing in San Miguel. We can each develop our own and/or work on a pre-existing one. An example of a pre-existing one is the English as a Foriegn Language Program that SMOT has begun in the local school.
As for me, I have a million ideas, but I prefer to talk more with folks in San Miguel to see if there’s anything at all that they would want, first. Hopefully next week I can get out the house more and talk with folks. From my experience, that is always the most important thing you need do, especially when you are not from said community. I’m down to share most anything I can; skills, stories, laughs. I’m down to learn, and grow, and get checked; I’m down to live. What I am not down for is working with the mentality that we as SMOT are changing lives and lifestyles. I am not down for ego-tripping, or ignoring privilege, not talking about Social Justice, or denying I could be wrong; we could be wrong. This work will have faults. This work should be challenging. This work should grow privileged people humility. But it’s more complex; this work needs also benefit those who will teach us. This is a relationship and I can’t wait to see and experience what’s about to go down. We shall see…And I shall write…