Estefany Ramos performs during Cambiando Vidas - Changing Lives in Panama.

Brenau celebrates, strengthens Panama partnership

Nov 30, 2021
Kathryne Davis

Diodanis Lopez and Alberto Ortega smile after performing together.Brenau University celebrated one of its newest international partnerships on Nov. 18 and signed an agreement to strengthen the programs long into the future.

As part of the university’s Nov. 15-18 International Week celebration, which focused on Central America and the Caribbean, Brenau welcomed a delegation from Panama to highlight the nation’s 16 students who will be pursuing degrees at Brenau.

Two visiting Panamanian officials, Ricardo Vaz Wilky, secretary general of Panama’s Ministry of Education, and Ilena Molo Alvarado, secretary general of Panama’s Institute for the Development of Human Resources, spoke to audience members about how important these students are to their country.

“I always tell Panamanian students to never forget that the sky is the limit and you are ready to take on the work,” Alvarado said.

Elio Aparicio, Ricardo Vaz, Anne Skleder and Rosi Ponce together after the agreement was signed.Wilky and Brenau President Anne Skleder signed an agreement of understanding with Panama’s Ministry of Education to ensure academic exchange and educational opportunities for students in both countries. Educating students abroad is an integral part of Panama’s efforts to revamp its educational system and become a more competitive economy.

Brenau’s Panamanian students spent months preparing Cambiando Vidas: Changing Lives in Panama, an evening program on Nov. 18 that featured dances and presentations depicting Panama and its culture. Images and posters on display throughout the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts included photos taken of the students after learning they received a scholarship to study in the United States or in the airport on the way to their new lives.

“We wanted to show you the beautiful, beautiful country that we all come from and how grateful we are for the opportunity that has been given to us at Brenau,” student Duinny Pinzón said.

Ana Gabriela Perez smiles during Cambiando Vidas - Changing Lives in PanamaRosi Ponce, Brenau’s executive director of international strategy and partnerships, shared the story of Bernardo Meneses, director general of Panama’s IFARHU that sponsors students abroad. He traveled around the country to tell the students individually that they would be receiving the scholarship to study at Brenau.

“When he mentioned this, I have to confess that I had my doubts that such an epic adventure was possible,” Ponce said. “But indeed, the tour started under the name Cambiando Vidas, changing lives. The journey that truly changed the lives of 16 young people who had their dreams come true, made their parents live through their son’s and daughter’s experiences they never had themselves and inspired a nation that recognized a brighter future ahead. That journey continues and it has changed more lives than we could count.”