Teaching and surfing his way through Central America

April 3, 2018

After earning his TEFL certificate at Costa Rica TEFL in September 2016, Zach taught online and traveled north to Nicaragua where he taught private and group classes in the beautiful coastal town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. While there he explored the local cuisine, beach caves, the islands, the majestic beauty of Ometepe and the epic waves of Playa Maderas and Playa Hermosa. 

Fast-forward to January 2018 and the adventurous go-getter is wading in different waters: the Caribbean Coast of Panama.

Bocas del Toro, the northern Caribbean Province of Panama, is comprised of several tropical islands. Zach lives and teaches on Bastimentos Island, one of the largest Islands in the country.  With a land mass of sixty-two square kilometers, Bastimentos is teeming with wildlife and home to a sizable national park. The island belongs to two distinct communities: the Afro-Caribbeans and the indigenous Ngöbe tribe. 

Zach is enjoying the good life and giving back; he works for a non-profit organization in Bahia Roja and Bahia Honda. The program has been in effect for eight years and concentrates on addressing the educational needs of Ngöbe children. According to the organization, the tourism sector of Bocas del Toro has infringed on Ngöbe territories and inflated the cost of living.

Our graduate explains the primary mission of his labors, “We provide empowerment to the indigenous communities through teaching and community development. We have classes and programs for kids ranging from preschool to primary school, which include indoor and outdoor education. We start teaching the preschoolers English at an early age to prepare them for primary school and beyond.”

Zach in Panama

Not one to be confined to any singular hobby, Zach chooses to indulge in the many outdoor activities of Bocas del Toro. When the weekend rolls around you can find Zach taking advantage of everything Bocas has to offer: surfing, spearfishing, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, hiking, skateboarding and boat trips, just to name a few. He also enjoys many other adventures like exploring bat caves, riding ATV’s and touring the different islands by boat. 

Zach reflects on how his time in Costa Rica TEFL continues to serve him, “Costa Rica TEFL gave me the skills and tools necessary to be comfortable and prepared to teach all levels of EFL. The various activities we learned have been very helpful in organizing lessons plans and giving the classroom a fun and entertaining environment.”

When asked about his plans for the coming year, Zach sets his sights on furthering his teaching career.

“I plan on living and teaching in Panama for the foreseeable future. I also want to experience teaching in Asia and different parts of the world.”

Whichever continent he ends up on, we are sure Zach will continue making a positive impact on the lives of his students and their communities.