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The ACE in Panama trip has immensely impacted me, creating an experience of a lifetime. My thought process and how I see the world have evolved significantly due to my time in Panama. The connections we made with the community and children, especially the hospitality they showed us, exemplified the joy the people we worked with possessed.

The specific moment that truly left an impact on me was towards the end of the program on the day of the volleyball competition. I had been working with the vibrant kids in El Potrero who never ceased to amaze me throughout the trip. Once the volleyball competition was over, the kids from El Potrero presented us a dance from their culture. It was an awesome sight. All the children wore traditional Panamanian clothes and performed a choreographed dance for us. Halfway through the dance, it began to pour rain like no other. However, instead of stopping, the kids decided to continue their performance in the rain with all the parents and teachers cheering from the sideline.

This moment they created a realization of awe in my eyes. It made me realize the simplicity of how these children viewed the world. If they wanted to play, they played. If they wanted to dance, they danced. If they wanted to play volleyball for hours on end they’ll do it.

I want to incorporate that mindset into my lifestyle once again. To always remember the joy, I have played the sport I love and to view everything in life with a clear vision. Those children taught me to disregard the dirty goggles that come with living in this society and allowed me to see the joy in the simple things all around me.

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