My name is Pastor Arroyo and I am an English Teaching Assistant in Panama, at the University of Panama, Department of Agricultural Sciences. In addition to working at the university as an English Teaching Assistant I am working with Ministry of Education and other government agencies and program to set up competitive debate leagues throughout the region at the high school and the university level. I truly believe in the power of debate to transform the lives of participants by providing students a space in which they can debate difficult social topics and develop critical life skills. 

Everyone that I have talked to in Panama is excited to be a part of debate. On July 26, 2019, we hosted the Panama Bilingue Public Debate Program Tournament in which more than 30 students from across the province debate in their second language, English.  For two months students prepared cases for debate topics such as “Teenagers should be punished as adults for their crimes”, took on full course loads at their high schools, and took an extracurricular English course for about 2-3 hours a day. 

My goal is to ensure that the Public Debate Program remains active in Panama after my grant has finished, and there has been so much excitement for the program its hard to imagine it not. Right after the tournament one of the students who participated at the tournament posted on his instagram, “We are pioneers of the Public Debate Program.” It overwhelms me with joy to know that students already feel a part of the program and that they want to see it succeed. I am extremely excited for the next four months. 

Fun facts about me, I was the first one in my family to graduate from college when I graduated in 2018 with a B.A. in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College. I have 5 siblings, all younger, I am from Los Angeles, I am Mexican American, my favorite sport is soccer, and my favorite tourist activity is to go watch soccer games in countries that I visit. Arriba el America! #NoEraPenal #Dia1860

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