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 →

A Sense of Place

Qué tal chicos, espero que estén bien! I’m currently typing this with one hand as I injured my thumb playing volleyball last week. I just arrived in Nashville for a brief visit with my family. It’s been so sweet to see my mom, siblings, and closest friends.

Highlights Recently have been
  • Eating more fonda food!
  • Making appetizers for a friend’s sunset boat cruise business.
  • Setting a standing day to work from home with friends.
  • Graduation of CAPTA 62!!
Current Projects

I am continuing to build out the course demo for our customer discovery efforts. This work includes designing learning materials on Canva, developing questions and surveys for potential clients to answer, and ensuring that the whole demo is clear and cohesive. I am really enjoying the digital design part of this process!

This week I’ve been focused on fine-tuning the impact tracking process I developed over the summer. After sharing it with my team last month, we made a couple of key changes that have required updates throughout the rest of the process. Just finished updating the SOP document, creating graphs + process charts on miro, and translating it all into Spanish. Once I’ve reshared these updates with the team I’ll be fully focused on impact reporting for OIM and developing Escuela Calicanto. Looking forward to having just two projects on my plate in the coming months.

We have met in person as a team a lot more in the past couple of weeks which has been really enjoyable! About half of our team are psychologists and working with them has caused me to truly value the importance of psychological support in anti-poverty/empowerment/development work. From both personal experience and observing the effectiveness of our program I have come to understand that the ability to take advantage of opportunities and build meaningful connections) is so dependent on our psychological health as individuals. People are always more than the circumstances they are experiencing. AND living in consistent need comes with real physical and psychological stressors that influence all parts of one’s life. An individual could be presented with an excellent opportunity to improve their economic well-being, but if they’re experiencing repetitive negative thoughts, low self-esteem, cycles of shame and guilt due to unhealthy coping mechanisms, depression, domestic abuse, etc. their barriers to maximize that opportunity are so much greater. Silver bullets do not exist, but I have come to see psychological support as a key component in working with people in a community development capacity.

Something I’ve Learned
My coworkers are teaching me Panamanian slang through the music videos of the rapper, Papa Chan, which has been really funny. Obviously, every country in Latin America has its own slang and accents, but Panamanian style feels next level sometimes. There are SO many hybrid/unique words and people are SO proud of it. Linking a video they sent my way so you can fully appreciate it.
Something I’m Grateful for

I’ve been re-reading Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown recently which has been such a formative book in my life. I first read it in the Writers who Walk LLC at Belmont (an equally formative class) and her writing on belonging paired with the practice of walking daily helped me process and care for myself in the midst of heavy life-changing events. The concept of belonging to yourself so fully that you belong everywhere and nowhere at once has been so helpful in my life as a Honduran American woman raised in the United States. There can be so many questions to answer, realities to straddle, things to learn, and boxes to check regarding my heritage. Navigating it growing up was absolutely brutal at times and has shaped how I see the world. I am grateful for Dr. Brown’s work, to have found a sense of place in Panama, and to have grown in the way I see myself, others, and building a community.

I hope you’re doing well!


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