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El proyecto Darien a Darién: una sola comunidad empezó en marzo del 2008. Un profesor, trabajando en una escuela intermedia ubicada en el pueblo de Darién, estado de Connecticut, en los Estados Unidos, descubrió que el nombre del pueblo vino de la provincia de Darién, Panamá. Se asombró el profesor, porque de niño había vivido él en Panamá. Se puso a pensar en la posibilidad de poder concertar una serie de videoconferencias entre los estudiantes de Darien, Connecticut, y unos estudiantes allá en Darién, Panamá. Hablando con amigos de la maravillosa Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, los profesores y estudiantes de Middlesex Middle School empezaron a construir un puente virtual entre su escuela y la Escuela Nicanor, con el propósito de establecer una amistad entre los dos grupos de niños. Los de Connecticut necesitan aprender español. Los de Nicanor necesitan aprender inglés. Todos debemos llegar a conocer la cultura del otro lado del puente.

La Escuela Nicanor está cerca de Metetí, en la provincia de Darién, Panamá.

Cuando el profesor de Darien, Connecticut, tuvo el placer de visitar la Escuela Nicanor en agosto del 2010, los estudiantes bailaron maravillosamente – y él intentó a bailar un poco con ellos.

Esta es la biblioteca que tiene Nicanor. La fabulosa directora de la escuela habla aquí con su amigo de Connecticut. El nombre del estado de Connecticut es de origen indígena.

En la cocina exterior, las madres preparan comida deliciosa para todos los estudiantes.

En el huerto de la escuela, hay guanábanas – pero esa fruta no existe en Darién, Connecticut. Es algo muy especial para este padrino del otro lado del puente – y algo que sus estudiantes nunca han probado.

La escuela Nicanor ya tiene un comedor bien lindo, en el cual sirven comida rica para todos los niños.

En Panamá, el profesor tuvo el placer de presentar otro cheque a sus amigos de la Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién. Los niños de Darien, Connecticut, presentaron un espectáculo en el teatro, de noche, para recaudar fondos. Con ese dinero que recogieron los niños de Connecticut, la Fundación puede empezar unos proyectos para el beneficio de los amigos de Nicanor.

Los niños de Connecticut están preparando en este momento otro espectáculo: Variety Show 4.

En Panamá, en agosto del 2010, el profesor visitó la oficina del Cuerpo de Paz. Los directores de esa organización – buenísima gente – ofrecieron su ayuda y su apoyo. Ya tenemos una conexión al Internet en Nicanor, y necesitamos un poco de ayuda con la tecnología…y también con el inglés. El Cuerpo de Paz nos ayuda a todos, y estamos muy agradecidos.

Middlesex in Daylight Hours
Celebramos en agosto el comienzo del tercer año con este proyecto. Esperamos tener comunicaciones entre los niños de Middlesex Middle School y la Escuela Nicanor este año. En los Estados Unidos, el año escolar empieza en septiembre y termina en junio. Middlesex es una escuela intermedia, con niños de los 6°, 7°, y 8° grados. Muchos están aprendiendo español, y quieren practicarlo con sus amigos darienitas. Quieren conocer mejor a sus nuevos amigos, compartiendo ideas, opiniones, y perspectivas culturales. Esperamos que sea este tercer año de Darien a Darién el mejor de todos.


 Fundación Pro-Niños de DariénEl Descanso, the sole place to eat between Panamá and Darién. There we stopped for breakfast, surrounded by toucans.

There we had hojaldras and salchichas, a salubrious repast. The restaurant also sells soaps with different herbal fragrances, made in Santa Fé, Darién. To my knowledge, this soap is the sole product which actually says «Hecho en Darién (Made in Darién).»

This is the road now leading to Darién, vastly improved and quite easy to travel. There are numerous police checkpoints along the way, providing splendid security for travelers.

A new sign welcomes visitors to Darién, bringing us from one Darien (in Connecticut) to a very different one, in Panamá. We were heading for Nicanor.

The children of Nicanor awaited us, and gave us a wonderful reception. It was good to see everyone there – and they had a lively celebration planned for us.

Here, a Darien educator and a Darién educator greet one another, on behalf of all colleagues on both sides of the virtual bridge.

We are guests at a reception which includes speeches, songs, and folk dancing.

The country kids do some typical folk dances enjoyed in Panamá for a great many years, and it is our pleasure to join in the dancing, celebrating the bond between the two Dariens.

There is an outdoor kitchen, in which mothers volunteer each day to cook for the students. Looking beneath the banana leaf, we find a delicious rice dish with chicken, all cooked over a wood stove. We’ve been invited to have lunch with the kids and their teachers.

This is the remodeled dining hall….very pleasant and comfortable.

The indoor kitchen has a new refrigerator…and they were planning to prepare chicha de guanábana, to celebrate my visit. The students have guanábana trees in their orchard.

Darien baldosas

The classrooms look wonderful now, and there have been many improvements. The computers work, and the children are learning to use Word. The connection to the Internet has been made, but there is a glitch with the antenna which has to be figured out. Hopefully, our friends with the Peace Corps can help with this challenge.

Darien Computer Lab
This is the school’s library, built with the proceeds of the first two Variety Shows

at MMS. Formerly an abandoned structure, it is now a fine library to assistant the Nicanor children in learning many exciting things.

The rest room facilities, situated in back of the school, could use some repair. The sinks are for hand-washing, as the water at Nicanor is not potable.

This is the poultry facility. The chickens provide eggs and then the birds are consumed by the students. After the rainy season subsides, a new batch of chickens will be raised.

The Nicanor School has two large frames filled with pictures of Middlesex Middle School students, and Darien newspaper clippings about our project. A bit of translating was necessary.

Darien Nicanor Kids T-Shirts
Our project moves into its third year. Soon, communications will begin between the students on both sides of the «bridge.» Meanwhile, improvements are still needed at Nicanor School, and we’ll continue to extend a helping hand to our friends in the rainforest. We look forward to the day when we may communicate frequently on the blog, videoconference, and all meet in person. The two learning communities are united, in a very real way.


November 5th, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in the MMS Auditorium, VARIETY SHOW 3 opens…to strengthen the BRIDGE TO DARIÉN

In 2008, students at Middlesex Middle School, in Darien, Connecticut, undertook the project of building a permanent virtual bridge between their community and the remote, rural province of Darién, Panamá, where their town found its present name over 200 years ago. They discovered that Darién is Panamá´s largest and least-populated province, situated in the heart of the Central American rainforest, on the isthmus which connects North and South America. They also learned that resources are not abundant and that, in order to blog and videoconference with students in the «original» Darién, they would need to stretch a helping hand across the miles to enable the required technology to exist and function.

Middlesex Principal Dr. Boccanfuso recommended that the school sponsor a school in Darién. Working through Panamá´s top-rated non-profit organization, La Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, MMS students formed Darien a Darién to build a virtual bridge of friendship between the two places with different names, and staged two variety shows to raise funds for the building of a computer lab filled with laptops specifically designed for use in the high heat and humidity of the rainforest. Through the students’ diligence and generous donations from parents, this dream materialized in 2009. Nicanor School, in Darién, now has a computer lab of its own.

These are Nicanor School’s new computers, built specifically for use in the rainforest.

This is Nicanor’s beautiful new computer lab.

Nicanor’s classrooms were remodeled after Variety Show 2, and we are told by our friends at the Fundación Pro-Niños that Nicanor is now the only school in the province which has tiled floors throughout the building. They also have remodeled indoor and outdoor kitchens, and likewise a refurbished dining hall. Children at the school grow their own nutritious lunches in the school’s garden and orchard.

The children show a visiting MMS teacher their orchard and garden. Since the second variety show, they now have a new poultry facility and lots of chickens which they are presently raising.

The Panamanian government has a project which they call Conéctate al Conocimiento. In English, this means «Get Connected to Knowledge.» Because of the Middlesex Darien to Dariénproject, the government has pledged to connect Nicanor School to the Internet and to maintain that service. If all goes well, students in the two Dariens will be videoconferencing and blogging — exchanging ideas, viewpoints, and learning — before the year is out.

Seeking to build a playground for Nicanor School — and perhaps a fence to surround the site, which is now viewed as a replicable model for other educational institutions in the region — students at MMS are presenting Variety Show 3on the 5th of November, at 8:00. All reserved seats are $10, and tickets are available now. The bridge to Darién is being strengthened, along with the friendship enjoyed by students on both sides.

EL ESPECTÁCULO 3 será el 5 de noviembre a las 7:00 de la noche. Sigue el proyecto DARIEN A DARIÉN.

Los estudiantes de Middlesex Middle School esperan poder empezar este año con videoconferencias y otras comunicaciones con sus nuevos amigos de la escuela Nicanor. Como ya saben todos, el pueblo de Darien, en el estado de Connecticut (Estados Unidos), tomó su nombre de Darién, Panamá, hace unos 200 años. Ya estamos construyendo un puente virtual entre los dos Darienes, brindando una amistad sincera. Con el tercer espectáculo, estaremos ofreciendo apoyo y, a la vez, celebrando el éxito que ha tenido este proyecto estudiantil. Este año, si Dios quiere, tendremos la oportunidad de empezar un intercambio de ideas y cultura, con correo electrónico, teleconferencias, y mucho más.

¡Qué siga para siempre el proyecto Darien a Dariény los lazos bien fuertes que existen entre los dos Darienes!


Project Dedicated to Building Bridge Between Darien, Connecticut, and Darién, Panamá, Marks First Anniversary

In the spring of 2008, students at Middlesex Middle School in Darien, Connecticut, began an exciting new project, the successful completion of which was expected to link the Fairfield County town to the remote, mysterious rain forest province of Darién, Panamá, where its name originated. MMS students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades were intrigued to learn that their town – once known as Middlesex Parish – borrowed its present name from that portion of the Panamanian isthmus which connects North and South America. The impenetrable rain forest of Darién causes the Interamerican Highway to suddenly stop in Panamá, thus rendering impossible a trip which might otherwise allow motorists to drive from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Fascinated to know that their town’s name was taken from a place where roads are scarce, where monkeys and huge harpy eagles are in tropical treetops, and where tapirs and jaguars and sloths roam the rainforests, students expressed a strong desire to communicate with the young people living in that beautiful part of the world.

It so happens that a Middlesex teacher lived in Panamá and still has many friends there. In this photograph, the teacher is visiting with boxing legend Roberto Durán, a native of Panamá.

Middlesex entered into an agreement with a highly-respected non-profit organization in Panamá called La Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, asking their help in identifying a specific school in the rain forest which we might sponsor. The purpose of their friendly alliance would be to provide our students with an opportunity to communicate with, and get to know, students from the «original» Darién, by means of videoconferences, blogging, and the effective use of other 21st century communication media….and to assist our new friends in acquiring the necessary technology to enable them to communicate with us. In order to raise the funds to make this dream a reality, students put together two spectacular variety shows, selling out on both occasions and earning enough to help our new friends to acquire a school library/computer lab.

These talented students, wearing Panamanian camisillas, served as masters of ceremonies for the well-received Variety Show II on October 30th, 2008. Between the two very entertaining benefit shows, funds were raised to enable the Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién to begin constructing a computer lab, a new dining hall and kitchen, and a poultry facility for the Nicanor School, where students raise their own crops and grow what they eat each day.
In order to facilitate the Darien to Darién venture, Mr. Smith made his first trip to the Panamanian province in 2008.

When he lived in Panamá, as an 8th grader, the MMS teacher was unable to see the remove province of Darién, because no roads existed there. As a result, he only heard about Darién, while he lived in Panamá City and began focusing on a career in the entertainment field.

Students in the 8th grade enjoyed a special Darien a DariénDay at school in 2008, engaged in activities ranging from the making of molas and guanábana ice cream to the singing of Panamanian songs and playing games popular in the original Darién.

The Darién a Darien: un solo mundoproject now celebrates its first anniversary. Although the students at Middlesex Middle School are very eager to begin corresponding with – and getting to know – the extremely likeable people of Darién, it takes time for the process to begin. The Panamanian government has an important program called Conéctate al conocimiento, which means «Get Connected to Knowledge.» Under the auspices of this initiative, schools in rural regions (el interior) are provided by the government with Internet connection and maintenance. Nicanor School was placed on the list to receive this service, and we are presently anticipating completion of the necessary work. As soon as this has been accomplished, it is the hope of all the members of our two learning communities that the virtual bridge will unite us for many, many years to come.

Darien, Connecticut, USA

Darién, Panamá — La Escuela Nicanor

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¿Qué es lo que hacemos nosotros diariamente?

Vamos a hablar de nuestra rutina diaria — en Darién, Panamá, y en Darien, Connecticut

Somos similares en muchas cosas, ¿verdad? También somos individuos, y vivimos la vida con nuestras propias tradiciones, costumbres, y rarezas. En esta sección, vamos a escribir de la rutina diaria….es decir, lo que hacemos nosotros todos los días, incluyendo las cosas básicas que hacemos antes de salir para la escuela y también las actividades específicas que hacemos para divertirnos.

Nuestros estudiantes aquí en el otro Darién, en Connecticut, van a contarles algunas cosas interesantes para que lleguen ustedes a conocer un poquito las culturas que tenemos en los Estados Unidos. Queremos que nos digan algo de sus propias rutinas diarias. Somos buenos amigos – y debemos conocernos aún mejor. ¡Vamos a bloguear!Let’s share thoughts about our daily routines, customs and practices. Do we follow a daily schedule similar to that of our friends in Darién, Panamá? Let’s find out!

We invite everyone to write about the often mundane – but occasionally very interesting – things we do each day…the little things we often take for granted, but which reflect customs and practices and attitudes prevalent in our culture. We hope our friends in Darién, Panamá, will also share with us some of their daily activities and routines. What a wonderful way to learn about other cultures, and to gain new insights into our own!

La guanábana panameña

Cuando yo vivía en Panamá, hace muchísimos años, la fruta que más me impresionó fue la naranja de Boquete. Nunca en mi vida he probado otra fruta de esa calidad. En aquel entonces, la naranja de Boquete era el orgullo del país entero. Cuando regresé a Panamá en 2007 y 2008, de esa joya panameña nadie hablaba. Parece que ya es desconocida…pero les aseguro que en 1959 todo el mundo gozaba de la naranja de Boquete…..tan dulce y jugosa.

En este momento, la guanábana – que no existe en los Estados Unidos – es la fruta que a mis estudiantes les interesa tanto.
El 26 de noviembre, celebramos en nuestro colegio un Día Darién, con actividades extraordinarios y oportunidades para aprender más de Panamá, y especialmente de Darién. Yo compré una máquina para hacer helado, y conseguí pulpa congelada de guanábana. Algunos estudiantes de Darien, Connecticut, probaron – por primera vez – helado de guanábana. Muchos dijeron que ya es su helado preferido.

¿Qué hacen ustedes con las guanábanas que hay en Darién? ¿Las comen con frecuencia? ¿Las usan en chichas y otras bebidas? A nuestros estudiantes les encantaría aprender mucho más sobre esta fruta que es, para nosotros, casi desconocida.

El segundo espectáculo de variedades para recaudar fondos

La Dra. Boccanfuso, Directora del Colegio Middlesex, tuvo la idea de construir un puente virtual entre nuestra escuela en el pueblo de Darien, Connecticut, y una escuela en la provincia de Darién, República de Panamá. Gracias a nuestros queridos amigos de la Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, comenzó una amistad muy especial entre los jóvenes de Middlesex y los estudiantes de la Escuela Nicanor. Para poder tener comunicaciones, compatiendo ideas, información y cultura con los niños del Darién original, queríamos ayudarles con la construcción de una biblioteca y salón de cómputo allá en Nicanor. El 22 de mayo, los niños de Darien, Connecticut, presentaron – en nuestro auditorio – un espectáculo para recaudar fondos. Gracias al talento que existe en nuestra comunidad, vendimos todos los boletos y muchas camisetas con el diseño Darien a Darién: Un solo mundo. La madre de un niño nos ayudó también, ofreciéndonos una cantidad de dinero para poder construir la biblioteca en Nicanor.

        Al empezar el nuevo año escolar en Connecticut (la última semana de agosto), decidimos tratar de recaudar fondos una vez más, para poder ayudarles a nuestros amigos darientas con las otras tres necesidades de la escuela, descritas en el documento que prepararon para nosotros en abril. Otra vez, presentamos un espectáculo. El 30 de octubre, muchos estudiantes y unos profesores tocaron música, cantaron, bailaron, y vendieron toditas las entradas….y también muchas camisetas y discos compactos. A un señor de la comunidad tanto le encantó el espectáculo de variedades que nos regaló otro cheque esa misma noche. Es casi increíble, pero ya tenemos la cantidad que se necesita para poder realizar el sueño entero…y conseguir para nuestra querida Escuela Nicanor todo lo que aparece en la lista de necesidades.

Brian y Alex eran presentadores para el Espectáculo 2 el 30 de octubre.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Patrick, Brian y Alex, llevando camisillas panameñas, hablaron de la Escuela Nicanor y mostraron fotos en la pantalla grande del teatro, explicando el proyecto al gentío que vino a disfrutar del espectáculo de variedades.
La Profesora Kim Lambert cantó una canción panameña, «La aparición,» del compositor Carlos Eleta Almarán, recibiendo un aplauso bien fuerte.

La Srta. Lambert canta con un conjunto de Darien, Connecticut.

El profesor vuelve a cantar, como en años anteriores, con la ayuda de Will y Kevin.

El profesor vivía en Panamá a la edad de trece años, pero ya es abuelito. No canta ya para ganarse la vida, pero todavía canta…y tomó parte en el Espectáculo 2.
Alex, Patrick, y Grant hicieron un trabajo maravilloso para ayudar a nuestros amigos allá en Nicanor. En la presentación el 30 de octubre, Grant llevó un montuno panameño hecho en 1959…hace ya casi 50 años. La mamá de Grant es panameña, y nos está ayudando mucho con este proyecto.
En esta foto, Sean está practicando….pero no necesita practicar tanto, porque toca profesionalmente y es considerado uno de los jóvenes pianistas más destacados de los Estados Unidos.

Todos los participantes del Espectáculo 2, agradeciendo el aplauso. La gente estaba parada en el teatro.

Los niños del Espectáculo 2 tienen deseos de probar la guanábana…pero en Connecticut no hay.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Como ha dicho Patricio varias veces, Podemos cantar canciones panameñas, ponernos camisillas panameñas, y hablar del Darién original…pero no se puede comer helado de guanábana en Connecticut – simplemente porque no existe aquí. ¡Qué lástima!
De todas maneras, ya tenemos los fondos para poder hacer todo el trabajo que nos queda hacer en Nicanor. Estamos contentos, porque pronto podremos escribir y bloguear y tener videoconferencias con nuestros amigos de la Escuela Nicanor. Esperamos que continue esta amistad y este puente virtual, uniendo los dos Darienes, para siempre.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen MMS Principal Dr. Boccanfuso suggested we sponsor an individual school in the Panamanian province of Darién – the very place our town’s name originated – we entered into a cordial partnership with the award-winning Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, a non-profit organization based in Panamá which has as its sole purpose the mission of improving conditions for children in the beautiful, remote rainforest of Darién. Our friends at the Foundation prepared a document for us, detailing four projects which, if undertaken and completed, would substantially improve the educational experience of the students at tiny Nicanor School.Nicanor is a rural settlement in Darién, with 187 inhabitants. The elementary school presently has an enrollment of 57 students in pre-K through 6th grade. The community is situated to the west of Metetí, and not far from the educational farm operated by the Foundation. The four goals outlined in the proposal for Nicanor School sent to us in April 2008 were as follows:

1. Building and furnishing a library/computer lab with all electrical installations and 15 computers designed for use in the extremely humid rainforest

2. Repairs and new accommodations for the school’s dining hall, where the children enjoy nutritious breakfasts and lunches

3. Construction of a poultry-raising facility (students grow their own food and are instructed in agricultural sciences)

4. Construction of a playground/recreational facility

In May 2008, Kindness Counts, community service group based at Middlesex Middle School, facilitated the production of a Variety Show, the purpose of which was to raise funds to build a library/computer lab for the Nicanor School. Playing to a full house, and augmenting receipts through the sale of special Darién T-shirts, the original MMS Variety Show raised a considerable sum. At that point, a kind family in Darien came forward and offered to double the amount raised by our students. Their generosity, coupled with the substantial amount raised at the Variety Show, was sufficient for the building of Nicanor’s computer lab/library. We personally delivered the check to the President of the Fundación Pro-Niños de Dariénin July.


When the computer lab is built at Nicanor School, we may blog, exchange ideas and insights, and engage in real-time videoconferencing with our new friends in Darién, Panamá.

Because we were successful with the initial fundraiser in May, Kindness Counts opted to present a second benefit show on October 30th, in the MMS auditorium. Quickly assembling a large cast of extremely gifted students, working with several teacher-performers, the show was mounted and all tickets were sold. Coupled with the sales of T-shirts, showtime snacks, and CDs, a sufficient sum was generated so as to enable the construction of the poultry facility and the playground for Nicanor School. During the intermission for Variety Show 2, however, a member of the audience spoke of his sincere interest in the project. He had heard the presentation by Alex, Brian, Grant, and Patrick during the show, detailing the reasons for Variety Show 2, and he overwhelmed us by donating the funds – anonymously -to completely refurbish the dining hall at Nicanor. With this donation, matching the sum raised by our students, we are able to complete – after only 6 months – our commitment to Nicanor School. All four needs expressed in the proposal sent to us last April will now be swiftly addressed.

The school year ends in early December in Panamá. Their «summer vacation» is in January and February. By the time the new term begins in March 2009, it is our hope that construction will be underway at Nicanor, and that all improvements will be in progress. The people of Darién are exceptionally nice, courteous, kind, friendly, and sincere. Getting to know them will enrich the educational experience of every student in our own wonderful community of Darien, Connecticut.

El Profesor Journeys to Darién, Panamá in July, 2008

It was my intention to journey to Panamá and to personally present our first Middlesex Middle School contribution to our friends at the offices of the Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, conveniently situated in the capital city. When they learned of my plan, however, these wonderful friends invited me to journey with them to Darién, to help officiate at the annual Feria Escolar during the Children´s Day celebration – widely celebrated throughout Panamá. The Fundación operates a large educational farm in Darién, and it is situated a short distance from Nicanor. The farm, which has trails leading into the heart of the rainforest…with monkeys gallivanting in the treetops and with a wide variety of colorful birds flying about…has countless marked and labeled gardens and orchards, designed for agricultural instruction, along with animals of every description. Instruction in organic farming and the raising of livestock is offered, and there are bunkhouses where children sponsored by the Foundation enjoy a summer learning camp experience each year.    I did present our donations to the remarkable staff of the Fundación Pro-Niños in Panamá City. 


The following morning, we met at 4:00 a.m. and began our drive on the Inter-American Highway from Panamá towards Darién. When I lived in Panamá, many years ago, this road did not exist. Today, it runs from Panamá through a portion of the Province of Darién, but then stops. No roads cut through the thick, wild rainforest which constitutes the fabled Darién Gap, and which is world-renowned parkland. Parts of the highway are excellent, while other sections have prominent potholes. At dawning, we paused at an open-air restaurant called El Descanso, where we enjoyed a typical breakfast of hojaldras, chorizos, jugo and café.  The drive was extremely pleasant, and we reached the farm in plenty of time for the opening of the fair.

    To my surprise, it had been arranged for me to leave the fair for a short visit to the Nicanor School. The school year runs from March through November, so school is in session in July. The school day is short in Darién, however, and so it was necessary for me to hasten there to meet the principal, teachers, and youngsters. Friends from the Fundación drove me to Nicanor, which – unlike the farm – is not situated on the main (and only) highway in the province. It is necessary to turn onto a dirt road and travel north for a few miles to reach Nicanor.


When we arrived, a number of the children were lined up in the manner of an honor guard to cordially greet us. I spoke with them, asked them many questions, and was then graciously escorted into the building to see the cheerful classrooms. Children in grades 1, 3 and 5 share one room, while students in grades 2, 4 and 6 are in another. A third classroom accommodates the youngest children.


I saw their cafeteria, where they enjoy breakfast and lunch. Two mothers volunteer each school day to come and cook delicious meals on a wood stove outside of the cafeteria. On the day of my visit, the youngsters were about to partake of arroz y frijolitos. Covered with plantain leaves, it looked wonderful. Everything I ate in Darién was delicious.

I toured the small building which is being converted into a library/computer lab. Costs being lower in Darién, Panamá than Darién, Connecticut, it is possible that the building itself will be torn down and re-built, to better accommodate the exciting new addition to the school. After leaving that structure, I was taken by the children on a fine tour of the grounds. They learn agriculture, in addition to math, science, social studies, Spanish, and other subjects. Students are taught effective methods of organic gardening. They grow their own lunches.


    It is required that all children in Darién schools learn English. Unfortunately, there are no English teachers, books, or resources. Nevertheless, the principal coached the students to extend a greeting to our Middlesex community – in English – as I was leaving. It was a wonderful visit, and I hope to stay much longer next time — and to teach some longer lessons as well.


    Returning to the farm, we thoroughly enjoyed the two-day Feria Escolar. On the first day, finalists from sponsored schools throughout Darién competed in storytelling, poetry recitation, the singing of improvised décimas, drawing, and other arts. There was folk dancing by children representing the Emberá and Afro-Darienite cultures, and the artistry of all the participants was astonishing. The youngster who won the storytelling competition was literally of professional caliber. I have never encountered a more talented group of young people.


    That evening, in the town of Metetí, I met a missionary priest who kindly and generously presented me with a book on the history of Darién, which I had never seen and did not know existed. He and many others joined us for a dinner at the farm. The following morning, we enjoyed hojaldras and other typical breakfast foods – and then we welcomed a different group of youngsters for the games and outdoor events of Children’s Day. From sack-races, stilt-walking, and breaking a piñata to relay races and balloon-busting, it was a pleasant day for the appreciative children of Darién, all of whom left with gifts and treats provided by generous Panamanian merchants and patrons.

    A grove of guanábana trees gave me the idea of requesting chicha de guanábana – which, by the way, proved to be the best I´d ever tasted.


Being with such good company in the heart of the rainforest was a thorough pleasure. After the children left for their home communities, we rounded up our belongings and set about to return to Panamá. It was only a four-hour drive, and yet 9 out of 10 residents of Panamá City will report that they have never set foot in Darién. There is no tourism, there are no hotel or restaurant facilities catering to out-of-towners, and visiting some of the communities in Darién is like venturing into the more tranquil past. I enjoyed every moment of my visit and I look forward to seeing Darién again in the not-too-distant future.


 The work of the students and staff of Middlesex Middle School in extending a hand of friendship across our virtual bridge is very much appreciated by our friends in the original Darién. We all look forward to getting to know one another as our communication continues and the distance between the two Dariens diminishes.

    Darién is charming, and the people there are wonderful!  I am pleased to be able to share with everyone my first-hand account of a happy visit there, and only hope I adequately represented the folks in Darien, Connecticut, when I happily served as our initial «ambassador» during my excursion into the rainforest.

MI VISITA A DARIÉN en julio, 2008

La verdad es que nunca pensé que iba a ver el Darién original, pero sí quería entregar las contribuciones de Middlesex Middle School a mis amigos de la Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, que tienen una oficina muy bonita en Panamá. Pensé pasar no más unos dos o tres días en Panamá, pero me invitaron a ir a Darién para disfrutar la Fería Escolar, que se celebra cada año durante la celebración del Día del Niño. Como saben todos, yo vivía en Panamá hace 50 años, pero nunca había ido a Darién. Decidí acompañar a la buena gente de la Fundación. Llegué a Panamá y, al día siguiente, fui a la oficina de la Fundación.

Salimos todos para Darién a las 4:00 de la mañana el 18 de julio. La carretera, que nunca había visto antes, es como cualquier otro camino en ciertas partes, pero hay secciones con baches parecidos a unos cañones gigantescos. Sin embargo, no tuvimos dificultades de ninguna clase. Desayunamos en un restaurante que se llama El Descanso, y luego llegamos a Darién, donde sacamos una foto del letrero que dice «¡Bienvenidos a Darién!»


El viaje de Panamá a la granja de la Fundación Pro-Niños dura no más 4 horas. Me encantó la granja, un recurso educativo de altísima calidad.

La feria todavía no había empezado. Mis amigos me llevaron de una vez a la comunidad de Nicanor, donde tuve el placer de conocer personalmente a los estudiantes de la escuela, su director, y sus maestras. Fue una visita maravillosa, durante la cual aprendí mucho.

Los niños de Darién son inteligentes, educados, muy simpáticos, y tienen muchísimo talento. Estudian español, ciencias, matemáticas, ciencias sociales, inglés, y otras materias de interés. También cantan diariamente en la escuela, y eso me encanta.

Me llevaron a la huerta y al jardín, para ver todo lo que tenían sembrado. Me interesó mucho. Hay muchas plantas en Darién, Panamá, que no existen en Darién, Connecticut. Los dos Darienes tienen climas muy diferentes.


Vi el salón donde esperamos tener una biblioteca y muchas computadores – y también, si Dios quiere, Internet para los niños de la escuela Nicanor. El puente virtual que estamos construyendo juntos va a unir a los dos Darienes, a través de la tecnología del siglo 21, y entonces nuestros amigos del Darien original podrán compartir sus ideas y pensamientos con nosotros. Todos estaremos aprendiendo juntos, con un Darién unido-


Regresamos a la granja para la feria. Niños darienitas cantaron décimas, bailaron, contaron cuentos, recitaron poesías, y dibujaron. El talento que mostraron era asombroso.


Los bailes folclóricos eran muy bonitos. Por suerte, no llovió en la selva tropical durante la feria.

Cada año, esta maravillosa feria presenta a los niños más talentosos de Darién. Es una experiencia muy buena para ellos, y es un encanto estar en la granja, viendo el buen trabajo que hacen en esas escuelas de la provincia.


Vi que hay muchas guanábanas en la granja, y – como hace calor todos los días en Darién – tenía deseos de tomar una chicha de guanábana, bebida que no existe aquí en el otro Darien.

Ya que tengo muchos amigos en Darién, espero regresar pronto. A mis queridos amigos de la Fundación Pro-Niños, les agradezco mucho la ayuda y la hospitalidad que me dieron tan bondadosamente. El trabajo que hacen ustedes es verdaderamente increíble. Tienen una organización que de verdad ayuda a los demás. La energía, creatividad, y la bondad que muestran ustedes no se describe facilmente. Hay que viajar a Darién para ver todo lo que han hecho, y que siguen haciendo ustedes. Me encanta ser padrino y, gracias a todos, me considero miembro de la familia de la Fundación. ¡Qué siga el trabajo de la Fundación Pro-Niños de Darien!

The MMS Variety Show 2/El espectáculo 2

On Thursday night, October 30th, Kindness Counts will present the big MMS Variety Show 2 in our fine auditorium, from 7:00 to 9:15.   We did the first big benefit show last May, playing to a very large and enthusiastic audience. By popular demand, Variety Show 2 has been scheduled. Vocalists, dancers, bands, poetry recitation, and a variety of specialty acts will entertain every member of the audience. Students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades – plus MMS alumni and several teachers – will put on a fast-paced show which will be suitable for the entire family. The purpose of this important fundraiser is to extend a friendly hand of assistance to the wonderful children of Darién, Panamá. In order to establish a permanent virtual bridge between the two Dariens, we need to help the beautiful Nicanor School we are sponsoring to get set up with the technology to enable them to blog, videoconference, and share their thoughts and their culture with the rest of the world. We hope to continue our assistance to our new friends with the proceeds from the Variety Show and such associated campaigns as the sale of Darién/Darien T-shirts.

First Selectwoman Mrs. Evonne Klein attended the first Variety Show performance in May, and read a special proclamation, making Tuesday, May 27th, Darién a Darien Day in Darien, Connecticut. On this special day, we paused to reflect on our connection to the «original» Darién, in Panamá. We also officially began the construction of our virtual bridge between the two communities on this historic day – the first of its kind in our town.

The first Variety Show was definitely a highlight of the school year. The large audience included our distinguished Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Fiftal; our wonderful Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Falcone; and our much-loved MMS Principal, Dr. Boccanfuso. So many talented students performed – along with gifted teachers, Señorita Spencer, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Kennan.  Numerous teachers splendidly supported the first-rate technical crew. There were songs, dances, instrumental selections, novelty acts, a comedy sketch and a magic act….something for every taste. It was truly a variety show, in every sense of the term. A special presentation regarding Darién, and the fine work of the Fundación Pro-Niños de Darién, helped to explain to the audience our reason for presenting this benefit show. Everyone had a good time – and we are thankful for the strong support offered by the entire Middlesex community. The diligence and enthusiasm of each member of the team made this special event possible.



In order to continue our support for the Nicanor School which we are happily sponsoring in Darién, Panamá, we are presenting another Variety Show on the evening of Thursday, October 30th in our Middlesex auditorium. Many excellent performers who are members of the Middlesex community will be featured in this benefit show. Working together, it is our hope that perhaps we may be able to raise enough to construct the Nicanor School’s first-ever playground, and to acquire more books for the library they are now constructing. Let’s be certain to reserve that night on our calendars and to support our school’s exciting Darién a Darien project through the 2008-2009 term.

El Espectáculo 2

Presentamos nuestro primer espectáculo en el auditorio de MMS jueves, el 22 de mayo, a las 7:00 de la noche. Como saben todos, tenemos muchos estudiantes que cantan, bailan, tocan instrumentos, y que tienen tanto talento que todo el mundo quiso asistir a esta función tan linda. El propósito del espectáculo fue la recaudación de fondos para ayudarles a nuestros amigos de la Escuela Nicanor con la construcción de una biblioteca, con un salón de cómputo.

La alcaldesa de Darien, Connecticut – la Sra. Klein – vino, para leer su proclamación sobre «El Día Darién» aquí en nuestro pueblo. Ese día especial, en el cual celebrará cada año el pueblo entero nuestra conexión con el Darién original (en Panamá)  será martes, el 27 de mayo.


Estamos empezando a construir ese puente….y el 30 de octubre, presentaremos otro Espectáculo aquí en el colegio Middlesex para la recaudación de fondos con el propósito de apoyar a nuestros ahijados y amigos de la Escuela Nicanor. Hay cantantes, bandas, músicos de toda clase, pianistas, números cómicos, y muchísimo más. Estaremos vendiendo camisetas con el diseño Darien a Darién. Todo lo que recibimos va a ayudar y apoyar a nuestros amigos de la Escuela Nicanor. ¡Vamos pa´ adelante!

¡Bienvenidos a todos! Welcome to Darién a Darien

Darién a Darien es un sitio escrito en español y en inglés para facilitar el diálogo y la verdadera amistad que sin duda florecerá entre la gente de los dos Darienes: Darién, Panamá – y el pueblo de Darien, en el estado de Connecticut – situado en el noreste de los Estados Unidos de América. Esperamos compartir ideas y mostrar el trabajo escolar de nuestros estudiantes….formar y contestar preguntas…y ofrecer videos hechos en Panamá y en Connecticut. Hace 200 años, un marinero regresó a Connecticut con cuentos de haber visto un lugar en Panamá con un nombre bonito y raro: Darién. A los ciudadanos de Middlesex Parish, Connecticut, les pareció tan genial que cambiaron el nombre de su pueblo, y así llegó a existir el pueblo de Darien, Connecticut. Ahora – por primera vez – los estudiantes de Darien, Connecticut, van a llegar a conocer bien a los estudiantes del Darién original – en Panamá. Los darienitas también tendrán la oportunidad de conocer a unos nuevos amigos, quienes viven en un lugar bastante diferente – donde cae mucha nieve en el invierno. ¡Bienvenidos al sitio!  Esperamos hablar de muchísimos temas aquí. Estamos listos para cruzar el puente y para llegar a conocer a nuestros amigos panameños.

Darién to Darien: One World is intended as a meeting-place…a virtual bridge between the beautiful, ecologically wondrous Province of Darién, Panamá, and the Connecticut community named for it: Darien. It is our hope that the students of both Dariens will learn much by gaining fresh insights and sincere appreciation for the culture at the other side of the bridge, and that a lasting and sincere friendship between the young people of both places will be generated as a result of this project. We look forward to exchanging ideas and insights, to working together on authentic problem-solving tasks, to asking and answering questions,  and to sharing video mini-lessons and significant student work.  This is a bilingual site, with posts in both Spanish and English, and we look forward to exchanging thoughts on any and all subjects related to the first-ever bridge connecting the beautiful rain forest province of Darién to the equally beautiful Connecticut town which borrowed the Panamanian name some 200 years ago.  Welcome!

 It is our desire to initiate a series of videoconferences between the two Dariens in the near future. More on this will be forthcoming.