Panama provides a spectrum of learning opportunities, including indigenous cultures, scientific research, and international trade.

Panama’s communities and the Canal

Panama has long been an attractive tourist destination, given the ease of travel and wide array of experiences. Visitors can enjoy two different oceans, experience the mountains and rainforest, learn about native cultures, and take advantage of vibrant urban life.

Envoys programs in Panama take students deep into the country, engaging with indigenous peoples and learning about the human history of this fascinating country. We also have the rare opportunity to participate in a coral bleaching evaluation project, critical to future environmental protection efforts.

Envoys students pursue rigorous research projects during our programs in Panama. Project themes and research questions are identified during the pre-trip online courses through a process of consultation with school leaders, academic experts, development practitioners, and business professionals.

Potential Project Themes

The concept of the Panama Canal as an international resource
The protection of indigenous peoples’ rights under international law

Sample Itinerary

Click on each day to learn more!

We fly into Panama City, capital of Panama. Founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1519, the dense urban center is surrounded by a belt of tropical rainforest.

After a thorough health and safety briefing, we head out on a walking tour of the famed Casco Viejo district. Built in 1671 after much of the original city had been destroyed by the privateer Henry Morgan, the well-preserved city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003.

During the evening, Envoys students and staff work together to review the content covered and learning goals set during our online courses. Students set out goals for learning about Latin American culture, interacting with local citizens, exploring the wildlife, and sharing the adventure with their families and classmates. This process empowers students to take responsibility for their own development during the trip, both for their research outputs as well as their individual growth.

Our adventure begins! We travel to the indigenous Guna Yala region, taking boats to the San Blas Islands.

During our visit to the islands, we embed into the Guna community, learning about their unique culture and traditions.

We spend time visiting with local students and compare the similarities and differences between our daily routines. Depending on the community needs, we may undertake a small service-based project in collaboration with the locals. By staying on the islands, we have the opportunity to go fishing and snorkeling, and to learn a variety of wilderness survival techniques. This learning helps students gain a sense of personal competency while also opening their eyes to the different skill-sets necessary for success in different parts of the world.

We return to Panama City and continue by private bus on a leisurely drive to the small town of Gamboa outside of Panama City. Given the exertions of the trip so far, the respite is well worth it!

We rise early in the morning and head to the Canopy tower in Gamboa for bird watching with local experts. Envoys students practice identifying birds and considering how the different species have arisen.

On our return from the tower, we stop by the famed Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal, a reminder of the importance of this nation for international trade regimes.

We spend the next two days visiting an indigenous community of Embera people.

Sleeping in tents within a large shed constructed by the community, students enjoy numerous opportunities to learn about the unique cultural and social traditions of the Embera people. Our students learn about the use of plants for medicinal purposes, hike with the native people through the rainforest, and take a relaxing tube-ride down the Chagres River.

During the evening, Envoys instructors provide lessons and lead discussions on the various issues surrounding the human rights of indigenous peoples. These lessons provide key background to allow students to better empathize with the Embera people.

We return to the capital, reflecting on the wonders that we’ve encountered during our time in Panama. Envoys staff work individually with students to revisit their learning goals, considering the gains that they have made and the areas where improvement is needed. We discuss the outputs of the student research projects, ensuring that the experience will continue after we return home.

International flights home.

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