Students will work with Wetlands International on restoring and sustaining the Mangroves on the Panamanian coast.
Roxo, TCU’s student-driven strategic communication program, is a self-supporting agency that offers students the opportunity to gain professional experience by operating like a business and taking on clients.
Roxo’s account executive Taylor Hardy Skypes regularly with Wetlands International’s communications coordinator of the Panama office, Sander Carpay, to create a slogan and logo for the not-for-profit organization to use at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Nov. 30.
“Wetlands International is a great example of a [not-for-profit] that has the power to reverse the destruction of our climate,” Hardy said. “They work with government officials to teach them the specifics about how to protect the mangroves… but they also work at a micro-level within local communities.”
Hardy said next semester’s trip to Panama will be operating on the micro-level. Roxo’s president, Oscar Roel, will act as a translator while students document the community around the Mangroves by taking pictures, recording videos and interviewing local leaders.
They will stay in Ciudad Del Saber and a beach hotel. Some of their planned leisure activities include visiting the Panama Canal, exploring the San Blas Islands, hiking in Soberania National Park and touring coffee plantations, Roel said.
“I think a trip to a place like Panama really broadens the student’s perspective and experience,” Roxo’s faculty adviser Margaret Ritsch said. “We’ll be actually talking with Panamanian people, eating with Panamanian people, going to where the locals go for entertainment and for restaurants, so it will be more of a cultural immersion than they can typically enjoy.”
Roxo’s students are already learning and growing from the challenges faced when working with people of a different culture. Kelli Massey, a double major in Spanish and strategic communication, said she uses her Spanish skills working for Roxo.
“I have translated the slogan ideas into Spanish to see how they will look and sound for the Spanish speaking branches,” Massey said. “It always feels cool when you get to directly apply things you learn in the classroom into real-life situations, and my experience with Wetlands International has made me excited to use Spanish in my future career.”
Due to the language barrier, Hardy e-mails the client after each Skype meeting to double check that they are on the same page and she advises future students to ask plenty of questions.
“My team is working on a mangrove restoration project, yet we had never seen a mangrove before,” Hardy said. “It took us some time to fully understand how everything worked since we couldn’t directly visit the project site.”
Roel said he relishes the chance to broaden his perspective.
“A lot of this trip will be away from the city where cellphone reception is bad,” Roel said. “Like most people, I depend on technology. I am excited to visit new places and step outside of my comfort zone.”
Roxo is currently taking applications for next semester’s class. To learn more about the program or the Panama trip visit their website.