Summer in Panama: Can We Stay Here… Forever?

This week’s chronicle, written by our Assistant Director and summer correspondent Chassidy Simmons, shares the latest adventures from the 2024 Summer in Panama program. As the program winds down, participants went on a journey to the Caribbean coast of Panama. If you want to learn more about the Summer in Panama program or other summer programs, you can visit our Academics section on the website.


Written by Chassidy Simmons



¿Qué tal? We are back with another update from Panama! And I must say, this has been the best week so far. We had an opportunity to travel to the Caribbean coast of Panama. Our first stop was Portobelo where we visited the Museum of Afro-Panamanian Memory. In Portobelo, we learned about the Congo community here in Panama. The Congo--not to be confused with the Congolese from the Congo Basin of Africa--are descendants of people of African descent who escaped enslavement during the colonial period and built maroon communities along the Caribbean Coast of Panama. They were able to preserve traditions and customs of their ancestors like style of dress and religious celebrations. And, they were even able to preserve the Congo language which enslaved people used to secretly communicate with one another during the colonial period. After learning more about the history of Afro-Panamanians, we got a chance to see some Congo performances. Some of us even danced.

After learning more about the Congo community, we traveled by boat to an island right off of the coast of Colon called Isla Grande for some much-needed “we” time. In Isla Grande, we spent most of our time swimming in the crystal clear water and sunbathing in the sand, but we saw some really fun things too. We took a boat tour to check out the islands nearby. On our tour, we saw an isolated island where no humans were allowed as it was a protected habitat for primates. Although we had to stay in our boat, we got close enough to see a monkey or two relaxing in the trees. Afterward, we took the boat toward the coast of Isla Mamey and hopped out of the boat for a swim. Some of us explored the sandbanks nearby and others laughed while floating in the same spot, but all of us wished we could live in that moment forever.