Don’t miss our very first info session tomorrow. Find out about deadlines, fees and most importantly, the experience that you’ll get by participating in this program.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Hola! Here’s a big welcome from our bus driver, Aribas with his charismatic and slightly cheeky smile to you readers out there!
If there was one certain thing about time - it's its apparitional and uncanny ability of making time transcend beyond that of human standards. Panama seems nothing but a distant and faint memory, albeit one that is forever etched into my list of "Top 3 trips I've been to", and even that would be a severe understatement.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
If there was one thing about time, it was that it flies by unmercifully when you’re just having the time of your life. In the blink of an eye, we have came to the end of our short yet happening trip.
Last day was basically company visits – first to Industrias Panama Boston, then Banco General & ending with a blast at the Miraflores Restaurant overlooking the locks at the Canal.
Industrias Panama Boston
From afar the bus, Panama Boston Industrias (PABO) was unrecognizable, blending in well with other factories, making it hard to tell them apart. Only on a closer inspection did we find the slightly rusted signboard hidden behind some parked cars, written in Spanish. We strolled through the rather worn out tarmac road of the front, avoiding puddles of water formed in some of the depressions. There, standing at the front gate, was a young man who introduced himself as Eduardo, our contact for PABO.
Despite the worn out appearance of the building, one ought to not shallowly judge the company as we later learnt - by the overwhelming kind hospitality of the company. Sure, the temperature inside the factory was soaring to above bearable levels, and the noise and smell wasn’t at all pleasant to begin with, but just seeing the passion and pride in which Eduardo presented the manufacturing process made everything so much more bearable.
The company’s two main products – Margarine (above) and detergent (below). A rather odd combination if you’d ask me.
Ironic almost, seeing that a month ago before the trip, my team had difficulties soliciting simple answers from Eduardo – which took a long time before he got back to us with almost irrelevant answers. This, was essentially a different Eduardo that we would have envisioned. He made sure that everyone of us heard him, occasionally even repeating himself twice since the group was rather large. He gladly took questions, answered them with an air of confidence and meticulously explained some technical processes to the core, even when he really needn’t to. Later, we were even given a box of detergent and provided with decent refreshments and snacks – a pleasant surprise.In less than a week, Eduardo sent us the promised materials during his presentation.
We were pleasantly anticipating the visit to the Bank – for despite the great hospitality at Panama Industrias Boston, we simply needed a break away from the heat and lingering odor of sweat, chemicals and margarine. The Bank would also be our very last ‘formal’ visit, after which we are technically allowed to let our hairs down.
We were given a presentation on what the bank does, where it stands in the international market, its main industry clients etc. Ross, a finance major, wasted no time in asking smart questions. Before we left, the manager of the bank, a long time liaison, commented on the great impression Fisher students make every visit with our sleek dressing and professionalism.
A point that is interesting to note that out of the three representatives who presented, two were educated in the U.S. Even Mr. Edwin and Ms. Shirley from the Panama Canal and Copa Airlines respectively received their degrees in the states. Seeing that these people who were educated from the states are currently in important leadership roles, the question that arises here is: Does being educated abroad, specifically the U.S. gives these people a hiring advantage? Does it imply that the education system in Panama is somewhat lacking in competitiveness?
Cultural Dinner at Miraflores Restaurant
Later at night, we had dinner at the balcony of the Miraflores restaurant, overseeing the locks. Having seen the magnificent canal in the day light, its night view wasn’t any less charming – the dimly lit lamp post casted silhouettes of weird figures on the sparkling waters. The highlight however, must have been the lavish spread of food, eat-all-you-can style. As we sink our teeth into tender juicy seafood and meat, some performers came from nowhere and started putting a spectacular display of cultural dances.
Vocabulary constipated, I’ll let the pictures and video do the talking.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Saturday, December 31, 2011
For the first time ever, celebrating it with 400 other delegates from more than 20 different countries and 20 odd universities at a national conference.
New year, new outlook. Time to push pass that mundane horizons and exceed your own boundaries.
Thanks for reading once again. Wherever you are, drive safe and be safe!
Friday, December 30, 2011
On a balmy, sunny midmorning away from the hustle bustle of the city, a traditional wooden canoe modified to fit 2 powerful Yamaha motors propelled its curious and excited passengers across the Chagrin river, light glittering across the water like diamonds. Only this wasn’t any usual canoe – instead of a captain of the ship, there were two indigenous tribe members skillfully steering the somewhat 10 feet wooden structure, with lush greeneries on the both sides, stretching to the horizon to as far as one’s eyes could see.
The 40 minute odd boat ride felt shorter than it ought to be, and before we knew it, we reached a rocky corner and was told the boat could go no further. From a distance, one could hear, irrefutably, the thunderous rush of millions of water plunging down into the never ending abyss of water.
We get only knee-deep, bravely navigating our ways through the slippery rocks to edge closer to the waterfall. Cold, the water was, but no hindrance to the courageous buckeyes. Professor Dickstein wasted almost no time and was the first to dive into the falls, emerging head-first for some oxygen, almost like from a scene of James Bond. (Professor Bond?)
AT where the pool of water plunges down onto the rocks below, we were told there was an opening where one is able to be directly under the fall and yet still breathe. Skeptical at first, Erik and I decided to check it out – we took a deep breathe and with a mighty push, swam directly to under the fall. At first, it seemed almost impossible to find an opening, and as we were about to give up, there, beneath a huge rock, was the opening the guide was talking about. There, for a moment we were simply dumbstruck by the magnificence of mother nature, of how insignificantly small we were – simply lost in our thoughts.
After a good hour of swimming and water-splashing, we headed back to our means of transport – set to departure to the infamous Embera Indian Tribe of Parara Puru.
Our destination, the village, is located at a lovely corner of the driver, with steps carved out of the hilly slope leading to the main hut. As our boats pulled closer to the shore, a drum sounded – then accompanied by more drums, and before we know it, the whole village came out to welcome us as we walked up the stairs, feeling like a star walking down the red carpet. Such, was a telltale of the great hospitality we were to receive in the next two hours.
Immediately after we were seated, the chief introduced himself, with our knowledgeable guide Juan Carlos as his translator. Knowing very well that us, a bunch of college kids with monstrous appetite, home-made food was served shortly – deep fried fish (bought fresh from a local community market) and plantain (deep fried banana mixed with flour), which was well deliciously satisfying. While we were working our way up to satisfy our appetite, the women and kids put up some spectacular traditional dance performances, one of which was oddly name – Monkey dance. Men, on the other hand, were the beat makers – using bamboo flutes and drums to guide the flamboyant dancers.
After the monkey dance, the beat changed drastically – a somewhat waltz feeling, and that’s when the women and kids paired up randomly and started doing their version of waltz. As we were comfortably sited and simply awe by the performance, what happened next was beyond our guess – the remaining women and kids and men each dragged all of us to the dance floor – and hola, we were in the spotlight. Long story cut short, everyone did extremely well except I, who stuck out like a soar thumb as an awkward turkey. (Anyone kind enough to offer some lessons?)
After the dance, we were given time to browse through some of the local handicrafts made by the villagers displayed on different tables (every different table represents a different family).
Yet the village isn’t just another tropical getaway for the stylish and well-heeled to experience a different culture, it was by itself, an example of an emerging ‘economy’. The village has gone through some changes, albeit maintaining its customs to cater to tourism – and is now so successful that it is world renown and with the profits from tourism – the tribe kids gets the privilege of attending a nearby school, with one of them even in the process of getting a bachelor’s degree. This goes a long way to show how just change is inevitable in this ever-changing world, and the only thing that is permanent is change itself, which calls for a great deal of innovation.
A summary and visual for Day’s 6 happenings – also us dancing, you don’t wanna miss this out!
(To be posted in the following post)
Exhausted, we dozed off on the journey back home – with Aaron and Cathy being the exception who managed to get a few heads and thumbs up in their direction. Why, you’d find out just below.
Here are some pictures to fuel your imagination:
Our never-stop-smiling guide, Aribas.
Tomorrow : Industrias Boston Panama (a detergent and margarine manufacturing company), banco general (leading local bank) and our farewell dinner at Gatun Locks!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Sorry for the hiatus in updating, am currently out in the sun in Florida chasing gators, princesses, Mickey and watching sunset at daytona beach - without any form of Internet besides my faithful 3G equipped iPhone.
Have you heard of trip blues? Well I'm sure feeling it. Missing the shine (inside joke)of our bus driver, Ariba; the familiarity of the wonderful company of professor Dickstein, Jane and Juan Carlos, our knowledgeable tour guide; and of course the ardent energy that radiates from everyone who made the trip memorable in so many unique ways.
I'll promise to update once I get connection, which unfortunately wouldn't be till Christmas. To be in the loop, simply stay subscribed to us (insert your e-mail to the box in the right)!
Lots more interesting post on our visit to the native tribe and waterfall, visit to Banco General and a local detergent and margarine factory, so stay tuned!
Before I sign off, here's a quote that I got off from Disneyland while watching the spectacular fireworks illuminating the night skies with its myriad colors.
'Christmas is the time to come together, to be merry, forgive and live again. Home is where the heart belongs - so go home, or remind loved ones how much you treasure them'
Be grateful, be thankful, forgive and forget.
Regardless of whether you celebrate christmas or not, here's to wishing you a merry Christmas.
P.s : Santa, all i want for Christmas is an ATV, thank you!