Panama 2023: What Our Nursing Students Learned

Nursing students dancing in Panama

Every time I look at this picture, I’m taken back to this sunny hilltop home, dancing in the rain with this beautiful young girl. If I could describe the most joyful and meaningful part of this trip, it would be this moment. Despite the difficult hike that got us to the home, we were greeted with kindness and hospitality from this family. After giving our presentations, they performed a traditional Panamanian dance for us, inviting us up to dance and participate in their culture with them. And in return, we “performed” a Texas Two-Step dance and invited them to dance with us as well. This young girl caught my eye and I wanted to dance with her and share joyfully in this unique moment. It turned out to be such a meaningful moment for me because despite the differences in our background, culture, language, living situation, looks, and age, the joy of being together totally overruled every difference and barrier between us. We were completely present in this precious and beautiful moment. After an eventful, long day, I thought about home and how there were parts of it I didn’t miss. I didn’t miss the hustle-bustle, social media, and efficiency of life back home. Especially being in school, so much of our time is rightfully devoted to studying, projects, and clinical. With the lack of free time we sometimes have, it’s so important to us that our time is spent efficiently. However, in Panamá, they don’t have the access to so many things that make our life in America more efficient. Time goes slow and everything that’s done is done well, even if it’s not time efficient. Coming back home, I will explore more of a simple life and devote more time to journaling, reading, less time on my phone, admiring the outdoors, silence, and doing things slowly. 

I can't express how much I loved and appreciated this trip. It will be with me forever.

-Ellen Nichols, Nursing Senior