¿Cuánto quieres aprender español? (Translation: How much do you want to learn Spanish?) Anthony Farmer, senior in the College of Business, was so adamant about learning the language that he moved to Panama for a summer.
Anthony is from Woodstock, Georgia and came to Auburn as an International Business major. He later switched to Accounting but kept his minor in Spanish. He has decided that once he graduates, he wants to join the military, specifically either the Navy or Air Force. If he were to pursue a job related to his major, however, he said he would want to be an auditor.
Anthony’s mom is from Panama, which is one of the reasons he wanted to minor in Spanish. All of Anthony’s Spanish teachers kept telling him that the best way to fully learn and appreciate Spanish was to immerse himself in it. After completing Intermediate Spanish II, he took their advice to the fullest and decided to spend his junior summer in Panama. He said, “I wanted to be able to further my education outside of a typical classroom setting.”
After settling in with some relatives in the city of Calobre, Anthony enrolled in a local high school for the summer. He said he knew that if he jumped right into everything, he would be compelled to quickly learn as much as he could.
The high school setting there was nothing like anything Anthony had ever seen before. He was shocked at how much the school lacked of basic necessities and funding. He said that only the teacher had books, and every day the students had to bring change to class in order to get a copy of the pages they were studying that day.
The thing that astonished Anthony the most was that the students were the ones who kept the maintenance of the school. He said they cleaned the building and mowed the lawn when necessary. “I couldn’t believe it, but I helped them out as much as possible whenever I could.”
At the end of the summer, he decided to apply for citizenship to Panama and later received it. Before coming home, he visited the Kuna Indian tribe on an island close to Panama and learned a little about their culture. He was able to communicate with them because along with their native language, they also speak Spanish.
When describing his summer in Panama, Anthony said, “The most educational part of living in Calobre was interacting and socializing with the local people and learning about their culture. That summer was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”