Panamanian consulate gives advice to students

Nearly 40 students in an Honors College Geographic Perspectives class had the opportunity Wednesday to better understand the country they’re studying, when Panamanian Consulate Ana Landecho told them about “the things you can’t find in books” about culture and history.

“Your lives will be transformed,” said Maria Crummett, dean of International Affairs, as she introduced Landecho.

As consulate, Landecho helps Panamanians become accustomed to living in the U.S., including assisting them with the immigration process once they are in the country.

“(Panamanians) can see the difference between Latin America and the United States,” Landecho said. “Living in Panama and coming to the United States makes you appreciate the things you have here.”

The students may put Landecho’s words to good use. Those who enrolled in the class have the opportunity to go to Panama during spring break, tour the country and volunteer in hospitals and clinics.

Arnaldo Mejias, coordinator of National Scholarships and Resources for Education, said students have a weeklong schedule with tour and volunteer opportunities at several sites within the country, working with Hospital del Nio, Hospital Punta Pacifica and the Children’s Orphanage in Panama City.

“The class is an intensive immersion in another culture: Panamanian history, geopolitics, food and art,” he said.

Lari Martinez, U.S. Department of State Diplomat, was also at the event to speak to students about his travels for the government. He encouraged students to explore the U.S. offices they will come across in their travels.

Ellis McGranaghan, a freshman majoring in chemistry, said she’s very interested in Panamanian culture.

“It’s a great opportunity to get involved at USF and to experience a different culture, which I think is important to receive a complete, well-rounded education,” she said. “Plus, I hear the food is delicious in Panama and I always love to try new food.”

The Honors Council, which mainly consists of students in Mejias’ classes, is holding a fundraising event to benefit malnourished children and infants in Panama.

“‘80s Skate Night” will be at United Skates of America at 5121 N. Armenia Ave. on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Presale tickets can be purchased for $10 at the Honors College front desk.