International Travel Teaches Scholars the Importance of Cultural Fluency

Leading up to their June 2019 trip to Panama, fourteen of our high school scholars underwent a rigorous application process and spent several months attending Travel Workshops to learn what it means to be global citizens. The workshops taught our students how to be conscientious travelers by approaching their experience with open minds and respect for the people and culture of their host country. Their preparation for travel abroad was well-met in Panama.

Not only did scholars take daily Spanish classes to help them communicate with their gracious hosts, but they also participated in several cultural workshops including cooking, drumming and salsa dancing. Other activities included a tour of the city, hike through the rain forest, and shared meals at local eateries and with families of the Embera Tribe. Throughout the trip, our scholars had the opportunity to experience life in Panama through cultural exchanges with local communities.


One special highlight was on the third day of the trip, when scholars participated in a Portobelo Colon Youth and Cultural Exchange. In the morning, scholars visited the San Lorenzo Fort, formerly a chief Atlantic port on the isthmus of the country and now a world heritage site, followed by an extended visit at the Casa de la cultura. Scholars learned about the art, history, and traditions of the Panamanian people as well as the African Diaspora which heavily influenced the country’s cultural heritage. At the end the of the day, youth from Colon and our scholars shared music and cultural experiences to learn more about each other. Scholars also donated art and school supplies to the Rhythm and Art Schools.

It was a tremendous experience for our scholars, many of whom had never traveled abroad. The trip provided our scholars with first-hand experiences and insight into how people in other parts of the world live and helped them develop greater cultural fluency through interactive lessons in language, history, art, and food. Our Panama Trip provided a life-changing experience for our scholars, and we are so grateful for the many individuals and organizations that support and fund our scholars’ international adventures.

A big thank you goes out to our international travel partner Peace Thru Culture, whose dedicated staff ensured a safe and enriching experience for our scholars. Much gratitude also goes to the donors who supported this incredible, immersive experience, with special thanks to Shinberg.Levinas Architects who have been faithful partners through the years!