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 →

Celebrating Two Months!

Tomorrow marks 2 months of living in Panama! It feels like it’s been much longer in the best possible way.

Highlights recently have been:
– Weekend beach trip to Punto Barcos
– Volleyball clinics
– Dinner with a local Filipino family
– Church service in Parque Omar

Current Projects:
I just hosted my first focus group with program alumni on Monday and have spent the week reviewing the feedback, making adjustments, and creating some internal structures (ppts, program flows, etc.) for the team to implement in the future.

I’ve had some really helpful clarifying conversations with my boss and a couple of mentors which has given me renewed focus on my next couple of projects. Some of the tensions I’m managing with this current project are creating an impact-tracking format that gathers all the information we need while still being engaging and attractive for our alumni. From an organizational stand-point, follow-up is a vital part of the nonprofit process, but from an alumni’s perspective it can often be tedious, unnecessary, and an imposition on their time.
My current mindset is that of simplifying. Now that I have a basic format, I am reviewing, analyzing, and trimming our process to keep it as lean, short, and attractive as possible. Also exploring offering incentives for participation and trimming our follow-up pool to a specific number of people instead of an entire cohort to get higher-quality feedback.
I just mapped out the next steps for these next few projects on To-Doist and have an overview of the rest of the year which is helping me feel super organized.

Something New:
I’ve been reading the book Culture Map by Erin Meyer which explains the impact of culture within international business and teams.
Meyer explores the impact of culture in communication + feedback, views on authority, the impact of logical frameworks in persuasion, perception of time, etc. One commonly used example is low context and high context communication. High context cultures are fairly homogenous with a high level of shared cultural background and experiences. As a result, their communication is typically indirect with a lot of implied meaning.  On the other side of the spectrum is the United States, a country with the lowest amount of shared cultural context due to it being a relatively young nation of primarily immigrants. As a result, American culture is low context, meaning we often value direct and explicit communication.

My teams are made up of Filipinos and Latinos which are both cultures with high context communication styles (though to varying degrees). While there are many aspects of Latino culture that are simply a part of how I was raised, I am very American in my work style communication (meaning direct, executing, and efficiency-focused). It has been helpful to have a basic framework to use as I approach my international teams. I feel more aware and can better understand our dynamics now. Practicing communicating why I am doing something a certain way, as well as communicating in a high-context way here and there.

Something Difficult:
I’ve struggled the last month or so to focus on and get traction in my work. My team is all Panamanian but has been working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic. We have occasional in-person meetings and events but it has been difficult to stay motivated and get clarity working by myself at home. Sometimes it feels silly how much I need to be around people (esp as an introvert)! I’ve been redesigning my work schedule by breaking the day into blocks, planning coffee shop + WFH days with friends, and building in rest/rewards/and fun throughout my weeks.

I’m learning how to live and work at a slower pace which means unlearning a lot of striving + dealing with some burnout from the last few years I didn’t acknowledge. I’ve realized recently that I used my work as a coping mechanism during some really difficult seasons of my life and as result developed a habit of working at an unsustainable pace. I’m slowly learning what a healthy and responsible pace is work-wise and am grateful for my therapist and a couple of mentors who helped me navigate this weird and difficult brain fog/burnout over the last month.

My dad would always call me patacaliente (a Spanish idiom for someone who goes out all the time and is never home). I’ve grown a lot in this area over the years but am learning what it means to slow down in this season of my life.

Something I’m Grateful for
These days I am really grateful for a healthy body that allows me to have an active lifestyle. Having the physical health to do yoga daily, play volleyball, go for walks, run, play, and move is something that isn’t lost on me. I’m grateful to be healthy!

I am flying to Madrid tonight to visit my sister!! Will be in Europe for the next two weeks and can’t wait to give her a big hug.

Off to pack!




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