Renée Ramirez
Renée Ramirez
Panama, 2022-2023
My name is Renée and I’m spending a year in Panamá working with Fundación Calicanto. Calicanto is a Panamanian organization combatting gender-based violence through social and economic empowerment programs. I’m a Nashville girl and graduated from Belmont in 2021 with a double major in Entrepreneurship and Economics. This is such a privilege, thanks for following along! Read More About Renée →

April Showers

Hola a todos! Happy April! Slowly getting adjusted to the rainy season here in Panama. It’s so much more humid (haha yes that’s possible) and there’s occasional flooding on our street. I got caught in a DOWNPOUR yesterday at the university which was fun but you know, a downpour. Thankfully there are still sunny and dry days.

Highlights recently have been
– The best visit with my sister in Germany <3
“Grocery Store Country 1997-1990” playlist – has been stunning my brain out of funks the last couple of days.
– Facetimes with my core friends + family

– Surfing trip planned this weekend!

Current Projects
April is entrepreneurship month and our Calicanto team is hosting multiple workshops and events for our program alumni. The Conexiones team hosted an online seminar on leadership in business yesterday, and we have a baking workshop, logo design, marketing, and multiple other workshops throughout the rest of the month to support women with their formal and informal businesses.
I am continuing the development of the Seguimientos follow-up process and have this week and next of final review before we start implementation. Semana Santa is my deadline!
April 6th is the graduation ceremony of our 60th cohort from CAPTA (Calicanto’s primary program that builds emotional resilience and capacity for work). It is going to be in-person at the office and I am so excited to cheer on the graduates and see a larger picture of our impact!

 

Something New

I am starting Spanish lessons 2x a week at the University of Panama. This will help me be more effective and operate at a higher professional level with Calicanto. Excited to get into the nitty-gritty details of grammar again. I’ve already seen such improvement in my language skills over the last couple of months and feel a renewed determination to nail it down and speak really well.  One practical example of this is that I am no longer hesitant and stressed asking for help or talking on the phone with businesses/offices. Previously, I preferred emailing or texting where I could think through my responses beforehand (much to the annoyance of my friends who needed a translator).
I’ve also noticed that when I run responses through a Spanish Dict translator to double-check accuracy, what I was going to say in Spanish is almost always word-for-word correct. Small but exciting growth that’s encouraging me these days!

Something I’ve Learned

I have been seeing such a practical need for the work Calicanto does in promoting gender equality. Sneaky cultural influences here in Panama (and more subtle but just as pervasive in the U.S.) have caught my attention yet again. Generally speaking, Latinx culture has deeply ingrained patriarchal values. This often manifests itself in women’s perspectives being discounted, the objectification + over-sexualization of our bodies, the wage gap ($0.67 to every $1 in Panama in 2021 and $0.82 to every $1 in the U.S. in 2022), social expectations to bear the full burden of childcare, dramatically less access to all forms of capital (formal loans, venture capital), etc, etc, etc. It is frustrating not to know what type of interaction I am going to have with someone.  At times I have felt like the only options given are to play small or to be a high achieving + aggressive. I’ve done both and neither reflects the depth, capacity, and multifaceted potential I and other women hold. I am still practicing relating to people from a place of self-respect, humility, clarity, and boldness. For me, this looks like prioritizing speaking up, advocating for myself, and relating to others from a place of intentionality rather than accomodating by default.

I am grateful to be in a role where I am able to support and facilitate women’s emotional health and financial independence. Especially women with children who haven’t had the same privileges, support, and opportunity that I have experienced. If it is hard for me, a college-educated, half-white, middle-class woman who has had wonderful mentorship and support from my parents and leaders, how much more difficult is it for women with much less. My work, directly and indirectly, supports the cultural shift toward a society that treats women equally and that is such a privilege.

 

Something I’m Grateful for

I am grateful for my home – to have a safe and peaceful landing space at the end of full and challenging days. I am focusing on setting up and decorating my office space to facilitate a  more productive work environment this month.

That’s all for now amigos!
Cuidense,

Renée

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