On August 27, 25 MBA students from the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, IL visited Cambio Creativo as part of a student-led, pre-orientation trip to Panama designed to allow first year students to develop deeper friendships prior to kicking off the school year.
For the past 6 years, Cambio Creativo has been providing educational programming in the arts and sciences to students in Coco Solo – an urban, coastal and historically marginalized neighborhood on the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.
However, the Panamanian government is currently in the process of leasing the land that houses the community to the Evergreen Shipping Company as part of the country’s efforts to expand the viability of the canal.
The community is in the middle of moving inland to Buena Vista, an agriculturally-oriented region where Cambio Creativo will also relocate in order to support the community through the transition. We began the day touring Cambio Creativo’s Coco Solo facility, where we met with Blake Scott, the organization’s volunteer coordinator (and long-time contributor), and Michael Brown, Cambio Creativo’s co-founder.
In addition to learning more about the organization’s history from Blake and Mikey, the visit allowed us to better understand the stark disparity between the challenging circumstances that many in Coco Solo face and the booming economic activity spawned by the canal area just across the street. Armed with a better foundation in Cambio Creativo’s history, we then drove to Buena Vista, where many from Coco Solo had already moved, to help continue the process of clearing the dense brush in order to plant various fruit trees around Cambio Creativo’s future home.
With the help of many community members ranging from adult men and women to five-year-old boys and girls, we were able to clear enough land to plant 25 banana, lemon, orange, and yucca trees which had been generously donated by another organization. Overall, the day was an extremely meaningful experience that ultimately allowed our business students to learn first-hand about the complex issues related to economic development in Panama, as well as interact with the inspiring people of Cambio Creativo and Coco Solo.
We’d like to thank Blake and Mikey for all of the prep work that went in to making our day with them possible, in addition to the many community members that worked alongside us throughout the day. We wish them to best of luck throughout their transition to Buena Vista.
-Theodore Nash (Kellogg Student)