Students pave way to Panama


Students from the Panama trip gather together in small and large groups. Photos courtesy of Aysan Razmjouy.

Aysan Razmjouy, Senior/ Print Specialist

This summer, a group of Bellarmine students joined the organization Courts for Kids and flew to Panama to help build a sports court with the community. The students were accompanied by teachers Mary Campbell and Rick Barnhart. The trip was a great learning experience for the entire group as they learned about the Panamanian culture while interacting with the local communities. After a six hour bus ride from Panama City, the Bellarmine students arrived in Yaviza and stayed in El Campamiento Peñón. There they began the project of building a court with the entire community. The court was accomplished in three days through shoveling and lifting sand, rock and cement.

The process was not an easy task and could not have been accomplished without the incredible teamwork. Junior Jiayuan Liu said, “We worked together as a powerful machine and everyone played an important role in it.” During breaks, students challenged themselves to interact with the locals in Spanish and to learn about their culture. This included doing activities such as cooking with the locals, playing with the kids, and asking about their traditions. In addition, the students developed friendships with the community through playing sports such as soccer (fútbol), volleyball, and basketball.

Sophomore Ciara Swenson said, “We became part of their familia.” The Bellarmine students not only built a court with the community, but history as the first Bellarmine class to participate with Courts for Kids.
Junior Asa Alstead said, “This week in Panama has completely changed my view of the world.” They challenged themselves and as a result built strong character and experiences.

Overall, the students learned the power of teamwork, that together as strong men and women they could achieve anything they put their minds to. The most rewarding part of the trip is now that the court is completed, communities can enjoy it for many years to come.
For more information about the trip, please check out and read the article posted on the blog written by junior Asa Alstead.