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 →

Little Bit of Chaos and a Little Bit of Fun!

Hola from Panama!  Currently hidden away at a coffee shop catching up on tasks and work. My younger brother visited me the last couple of weeks which was so fun but meant a lot was put on the back burner during his visit. Looking forward to having some quiet time for my introverted self and getting back into a rhythm in my work!


  • Exploring a couple of national parks.
  • Getting comfortable with more complex Spanish verb structures.
  • Showing my brother my favorite places in the city.
  • Finding a great dumpling restaurant!

Current Projects

I am continuing my projects designing a formal process to collect impact stories and further developing our Escuela Calicanto prototype. I’ve just completed the project scope of success stories and am now focusing on designing the actual materials and resources to execute them. The implementation of this is divided between the program team and communications team, so am taking care to structure the work and content of each resource from both of those perspectives.

I am leading the customer discovery and market research process of the Escuela Calicanto project. My work recently has been mapping out our potential clients, questions we’re seeking to answer and designing the best ways to collect that information. This is a two-month phase with a lot of data to be collected and sorted through. Trying to pace myself and set up firm parameters to stay focused. I’ve been re-reading *Designing for Growth: a Design Thinking Tool Kit for Managers and it has been such a great reminder of the tools for success in this process. Some of the quotes that stood out to me this time around were:
  • “Place Small Bets Fast”
  • “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else” Yogi Berra “Explorers often get lost”.
  • In reference to using key design thinking tools “As you map unfamiliar terrain, reframe problems to see opportunities, and imagine alternative futures, you must constantly check your direction (as well as your watch and gas gauge).”
  • In reference to the importance of design criteria: “In the ‘what is’ process, you glean insight from many sources. As a result, growth projects can suffer from information overload. The design criteria distill the incoming data, separate the signal from the noise and tell you what to truly believe about an ideal solution. Projects that cannot generate concise design criteria become rudderless ships, floating in a sea of data and never arriving at terra firma.”

*(confession I borrowed Designing for Growth from the Hatchery at Belmont Junior year of college and never returned it oops!)

Something I’ve Learned

There have been nationwide protests in Panama over the last couple of weeks over rising fuel prices, the high cost of living, and government corruption. Primarily led by Suntracs, but joined by other unions and associations, protesters set up roadblocks on the Panamerican Hwy all throughout the country. I have been privileged to have been minimally impacted by the protests but have coworkers and friends living in Colón, Chiriquí, and Arraijan who haven’t been able to travel into the city and have experienced food and gas shortages. While it has been relatively orderly within the city, some people were stuck for hours having to spend the night sleeping on the road or like some of my friends, off-roading through campos to find another route. No need to worry as conditions are stable and expected to improve soon.  It has been interesting to observe (and a privilege to observe and not be impacted by) the nature of political participation here in Latin America. My Panamanian friends have told me that protests happen all the time here and are one of the main ways to hold leaders accountable.
While influenced by the U.S. in many aspects of society, Panamanian citizens have a completely different relationship with their government than we do in the States (Not saying that the U.S. is the standard because who are we kidding, but mentioning it because it is my reference point as an American citizen). Linking a couple of papers below that explore the history and state of political participation in Latin America in case you’re a sucker for this type of research like me.

Something I’m Grateful for

My younger brother Roy visited me the last two weeks and we had a lot of fun! I took him to my favorite coffee shops + restaurants, introduced him to all my friends, went on day trips, and just spent time hanging out. We both have pretty chaotic senses of humor which is fun. I am really happy he got to experience a bit of my world and explore Panama! Hoping he’ll catch the itch to study Spanish and travel more in the future.

That’s all for now!



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