Community & Sustainable Development Goals

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

This week, we had a guest speaker named Fernando. He is a lawyer that focuses on Indigenous rights in Panama. About 15% of the country’s population is Indigenous. There are 7 recognized comarcas in Panama; Ngäbe Bugle, Kuna Yala, Kuna de Madungandí, Kuna de Wargandí, Emberá-Wounaan, Naso-Tjerdi, and Bri Bri. Indigenous people are at the lowest economic status in Bocas, then compared to Afro-Antilleans. Opportunities that facilitate access to education, medical care, and safe-drinking water for this community is scarce. This information prompted me to reflect on the similarities between Bocas del Toro and the United States. Back home, Indigenous and Black people are also at a low socioeconomic status, such as living on reservations and/or not having access to potable water. I think it is important to make this connection because an article I read stated that, “Jim crow laws were the norm in many U.S. cities. UFC officials carried these racist sentiments and policies with them as they boarded ships, trains, and planes to Bocas,” (Pleasant & Spalding, 2021). This quote prompts me to conclude that the racial hierarchy used to quantify power in the United States has also influenced places like Panamá, especially Bocas del Toro. We took a long forest walk this week, in addition to a snorkeling fieldtrip regarding invertebrates. I have attached a photo to this post from the long forest walk. My professor, Rosa, is holding a Glass Wing Butterfly. They have translucent wings and can have different variations of colors. This one specifically is brown, orange, and white. There are also scales on the wings of this species of butterfly, which help them retain heat and increase their wing mass. For my professor, Leon’s, class this week, we visited businesses that contributed to the tourism industry and exemplified the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in some capacity. My group went to Isla Bastimentos where we met with co-founders of Botica Basti. Botica Basti is a business that offers plant tours. In these tours, you walk along the main path in the Old Bank community and the founders point out significant herbs and plants that can range in purposes of aiding in digestion, cough suppression, and spiritual purposes. After the tour, we took some of the natural plants and herbs that we found on our tour and brought them with us to the Firefly. The Firefly is a restaurant off of the coast north of Old Bank. The restaurant owners allowed us to occupy the space to use the found herbs to make tea flavors of our choice. It was interesting to learn about some of the organisms native to Bocas Del Toro. The end goal of this activity was to create a PowerPoint with the other students in each respective group and analyze how aspects of businesses align with the SDGs proposed by the UN in 2015. We concluded that Botica Basti is indeed a sustainable business. I learned that every Sunday, students are responsible for their own food. To get into town, students are to call a taxi. I initially had some nervous feelings surrounding calling for a taxi. I think that the more comfortable I get with speaking Spanish and inevitably messing up, my feelings of nervousness will subside.