My Country Is Better Than Your Country: Panama

Where would you want to go if there was a Term 7?  We already get to see so many wonderful places, but as we’re all starting to see with only 2 international residencies left, there is so much out there.

In an effort to have a little bit of fun and to learn more about places we aren’t visiting as part of our residencies, I’ve asked some of our international classmates to help me out.  This is not just a blog post, this is a contest.  The winner and their country get the very auspicious ”My Country Is Better Than Your Country” award.  The way this is graded is by the number of Likes this gets on Facebook.  Just like American Idol or Dancing With The Stars, if you like a place you have to vote for it.  You can vote multiple times.  In the event of a tie there will be a sudden death show off between the two remaining countries.  You can share this to pump up the number of your favorite as well.

So without further ado, Lorena Valencia de Sosa tells you why Panama should be your choice for Term 7!

Where are you located?

Panama City, Panama

What are your top 3 reasons why Duke CCMBA should do a residency in your country?

Panama is the most cosmopolitan, fun and stunning city in Latin America: Our economy has been growing at a 10% rate for the past ten years, which has permitted the expansion of the Panama Canal and a huge construction boom (Burj Kalifah…who cares! We have the tallest building in Latin America!) ; Unlike other countries in the region (with the exception of Paraguay!), we appreciate (aka. not hide) our indigenous roots. We have over seven distinct indigenous tribes, who are actively integrated in the society. Lastly, who doesn’t want to attend classes in front of the ocean? Morning classes can be held on the Atlantic ocean and afternoon classes can be held in the Pacific, just a mere hour away.

President Martinelli

If Tony O’Driscoll had to create a blog page on your country what would be the political, social, and economic tensions he would describe?

  • Poltical:President Martinelli- The “Supermaket” President ….is the country “for sale”? Corruption? YES PLEASE. Prof. O’ Driscoll would takes us back to the Noriega era and what happened after his drug laden government was deposed by the US (the most violent day in Panamanian history); Where Post- Noriega governments effective? If so, how?
  • Social: How are indigenous groups treated? Is machismo predominant in the culture? As a foreigner, what do I need to do to fit? Learn salsa, merengue, regguetton and cumbia (oh, and drink “Grandfather Rum,” Panama’s pride, while doing this); Significance of time (I will see you in 15 minutes really means 45 minutes).
  • Economic: Will the economy continue growing and for how long? How do you deal with income disparities? Will the construction craze create a huge deficit in the economy? Drug money?

If you were hosting guests in pre or post residency what would you do to entertain them?

Casco Viejo

Spend the first day in Panama in the “Casco Viejo” (the old city quarter) soaking in the beautiful French/Spanish architecture, eating fresh seafood and cocktails. At night, we would go to the newest opening in the city, the Trump Hotel’s ocean side lounge. We would spend the next day in Barro Colorado, a pristine tropical island where the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute  (STRI) has a permanent research center, dedicated to studying rainforest ecosystems; It is among the most-studied areas of tropical forest in the world.

The next day we would cross the Canal (Pacific to Atlantic) on our private yacht. Then sail to San Blas islands, home of the Kuna Indians, crystal clear waters filled with colorful corals and lobster lunches and dinners! San Blas Islands is an archipelago comprising approximately 378 islands and cays, of which only 49 are inhabited. Although we would stay in Western accommodations, we would still visit a Kuna community and learn from their traditional way of life.  On the next day we would take a plane to Boquete, the mountainous area of Panama, where we would do class V white water rafting, visit a Guaymi Indian culture center and buy some of the most intricate crafts you will ever see, do coffee tasting at multiple plantations, including the one that won the “Best Coffee in the World” award. The next day we would drive to Bocas del Toro, a set of island on the Atlantic that contain two national parks: Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park and La Amistad International Park, stunning corals and an extremely diverse marine life.

What makes your country better than each of the other Term 7 options?

  • Brazil: One word: FABELAS! (Slums)
  • Australia:  It has to be one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited, but it’s too EXPENSIVE! It would be impossible to cruise around in your own private yacht, eating lobsters left and right.
  • South Africa: Capetown is South Africa’s gem, the bad thing is to know the real South Africa, you have to travel to Jo’burg, Durban and many other places. Too much land to cover in too little time.
  • Philippines: If pork with a side of sardines is your type of food, then you are in the right country. The good thing is that you will be eating pork in one of the most stunning deserted islands you have ever seen.

In 3-5 sentences make your best pitch for Term 7 in your country.

Board your own private yacht and travel to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean (one hour away from each other). With the help of a professional dive-master, explore some of the most stunning coral formations and enjoy some of the most extravagant marine life in the American Continent. As sunset sets in, take a bite out of your 50 pound lobster (fished one hour before) that was cooked by your personal chef and sip a glass of cold Veuve Clicquot (or beer, whatever is your fancy!).

Not only will you be impressed by Panama’s natural beauty, but by the idea of Panama as a huge melting pot; we our own of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries in Latin America. About 70 percent of Panamanians are “mestizos”, people of mixed European and Native American descent, or mulattoes, those of European and African heritage. Blacks, mostly from the West Indies, make up about 14 percent of the population; whites are about 10 percent, and Native Americans about 6 percent. Panama’s cities contain sizeable minorities of whites from Europe and North America, Asians, Jews, Caribbean blacks, and people of Middle Eastern descent.

Come and visit Panama, you will not be disappointed!

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