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Volunteering Abroad in Panama

The construction of the Panama Canal was one of the most influential events in the history of global trade, and with its prestige Panama has risen to be one of the most internationally integrated countries of Latin America. The passageway from North to South America, Panama is a small tropical country with a tremendous amount of biological and ecological diversity. Volunteer abroad programs in Panama provide a safe and enriching environment where volunteers can lend a hand to the country’s gradual, sustainable development.

Locations

Panama is a very small country and nearly half of the population lives in the metropolitan area of Panama City. Sitting at the Pacific port of the Panama Canal and surrounded by dense swathes of rainforest all around, the city has had a long history of central influence in Latin America and today is Panama’s political, commercial, and cultural capital. Because of its importance as a major port, those who volunteer in Panama City can enjoy a thriving international life as the city is filled with inhabitants from all over the world.

San Miguelito is Panama’s only other major city, with around 300,00 inhabitants living in the urban area. Many volunteer placements in San Miguelito will place volunteers in small villages or provinces in rural areas. Panama’s landscape is dominated by dense jungles, beautiful beaches, and the Cordillera de Talamanca Mountain range which marks the continental divide. Temperatures remain steadily uniform through the year, defined by a tropical climate of heat, humidity, and abundant rainfall. Be prepared to sweat!

Projects & Placements

Located on the equator, Panama is a tropical country with a tremendous amount of ecological and biological diversity; thus, many volunteer opportunities in Panama are offered by organizations committed to wildlife and environmental preservation efforts, as well as responsible eco-tourism. A lot of volunteer programs in Panama combine work with adventure outings, such as surfing, trekking, and kayaking.

Individuals can also easily volunteer in Panama in the areas of education, healthcare, and community development. Panama is a fairly well-off country by Latin American standards, yet still lags behind the developed world in many measures of social rights, economic distribution, and institutional accessibility. Whether volunteering in Panama City or in rural areas, international volunteers will find ample opportunities to work with children, at health clinics, or spreading awareness of important issues facing the country. 

Spanish is the national language of Panama, and it will be a great help if you are at least conversational upon arrival. Individuals can combine language learning with volunteer work in Panama, offering a rewarding opportunity for non-Spanish speakers to improve their language ability while also contributing to local communities.

Most volunteer abroad programs in Panama are offered year round, giving those who want to volunteer in Panama a good degree of freedom in designing their own experience. Adventure volunteer programs, which are more structured with a detailed weekly itinerary, will offer less flexibility however.

Costs & Affordability

Panama is an affordable destination for volunteering abroad, with most costs of living being significantly cheaper than in industrialized countries. Panama City is the most expensive place to live and shop in Panama, but expats still live respectably comfortable lifestyles in Panama City without burning through their wallet.

When volunteering in Panama most programs will charge you upfront for transportation and accommodation costs through program fees. The good news is that once you’ve landed, most meals will only cost you a few dollars, as will clothing and souvenirs in many places. The local currency in Panama is the balboa, although in many places the U.S. Dollar is also an acceptable form of payment.

Accommodation & Visas

Many volunteer abroad programs in Panama will organize accommodation for you, either in a flat or with a host family depending on your length of stay. Living with a host family while volunteering in Panama is a great way to experience Panamanian culture first hand while becoming intimate with a local family (and practicing your Spanish daily).  If you prefer living in your own flat, then in Panama City you can typically find an apartment for as little as $500 in rent a month.

Individuals from most countries will not need to obtain a visa in order to volunteer abroad in Panama, unless they plan on volunteering in Panama for more than six months. If you plan on an extended stay or your home country is not visa exempt, then visas are often easy to attain with the help of your volunteer organization.

Benefits & Challenges

Panama is the only country in the world where you can watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set over the Pacific Ocean. Need we say more?

Pristinely settled in the heart of the Americas, those who volunteer in Panama will enjoy an enriching and rewarding experience exploring tremendous diversity and helping local communities. Volunteering in Panama will be a cultural leap well worth taking, and one that has the power to influence who you are and whom you strive to be.

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A Guide To

Volunteering Abroad in Panama

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With more than 400 projects worldwide and with 25 years experience of providing ethical travel placements, Frontier can find you the perfect adventure whatever you want to achieve. We offer placements in more than 50 countries including Costa Rica, Madagascar, Fiji and loads more. Here are just some of the options available: Marine Conservation and Diving Travel to beach paradises, scuba...

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Travel to a tropical Island off the Caribbean coast of Panama and experience a volunteer abroad project like no other! Help build up and support Native indigenous communities, live in a national park among wildlife on a tropical island and play on the beach and on the surf catching waves! This great project focusses big smiles and big waves! The project serves local indigenous located throug...

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Don’t spend your time fetching coffee! This program is focused on hand-on learning throughout 3 venues in Panama- a city apartment, a home in a 500-person rural town, and our jungle basecamp. Programs in: Biology, Business, Culinary Arts, Education, Health & Wellness, Organic Permaculture, and Outdoor Recreation.

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TeachPTY is an English-teaching after-school program that aims to bring together international volunteers with third grade students from Pedasi, Panama. Its goal is to improve English language education in elementary public schools in Panama, while enabling cross-cultural awareness. The TeachPTY methodology follows Panama's Ministry of Education (Meduca) guidelines and is intended to complem...

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Hoping to learn or vastly improve your skills in speaking Spanish? Do it right here in Panama, one of the most beautiful and dynamic countries in Latin America! Study at our language school, wherein Spanish courses are available for beginners to advanced learners. We offer wide range of world-class classes delivered by experienced teachers eager to take your proficiency to the next level! Jo...

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If caring about others and helping them is your passion and you want to match that to a true Latin American cultural experience, then you are on the right path with Connecting Worlds. Besides having the opportunity to live in a beautiful country in South America (namely Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama or Peru), one the program’s main features is its low cost and comprehensive ser...

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Movement Exchange provides dance artists the opportunity to travel to Panama to empower at-risk youth to reach their potential through the medium of dance. Participants will teach at local orphanages and at-risk youth programs, take classes from local dance professionals, and learn about the Panamanian cultural fabric. Movement Exchange is a cross-cultural movement that combines dance and globa...

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More than 200 volunteers from around the world help Give & Surf, Inc., each year, and are critical in helping the organization to teach and lead programs, raise funds, and support new projects. Being a small organization, Give & Surf typically has two to six volunteers staying with it at any given time throughout the year, ranging from one week to three months. Volunteers have the opportunit...

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Join our membership community at MovingWorlds and we will connect you to a social enterprise or development organization across the globe, particularly one that matches your skills. Sign up as a member and have full access to our Experteering projects. We have a support team who will identify suitable projects according to your profile. Once we find the right host organization, we implemen...

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Participate in a 15-day community service and Spanish exposure program in Los Cayucos, on the beautiful San Blas Island of Panama. Ideal for teenagers, this program entails staying and working hand in hand with the Kuna Indians in constructing a community house, paddling cayucos or dugout wooden canoes from one island to another, surfing and snorkeling the aquamarine waters, and exploring the u...