Actually a Co-Op-portunity. A co-op is a partnership among students, educational institutions and employers, that is mutually beneficial for all participants. Normally your co-op doesn’t include an invitation to tour the home of the President of the host country, in this case, Panama.
A co-op is further defined as a structured educational strategy, integrating classroom studies with learning through productive work experience, in a field related to a student’s academic/career goals, integrating both theory and practice. Ten lucky International Maritime Business majors got to do just that in the first co-op collaboration between MMA and International Maritime University of Panama, the Panama Canal Authority, the Panama Chamber of Shipping and the MMA Alumni Group in Panama. They are: 3/C Nicholas Bronski; 2/C Mark Conroy; 3/C John Coogan; 2/C Derek Duquette; 2/C Douglas Dyke; 2/C Patrick Fitzsimmons; 2/C Jonathan Foley; 2/C Jeffery Lacasse; 2/C Albert Minevitz and 2/C Matthew Nadell.
All MMA students participate in up to three co-ops (depending on their major) as part of the undergraduate experience. Winter placements are eight weeks and summer, ten weeks for a minimum of 240 hours per placement. Following the co-op, students submit an extensive, written report detailing their experience, for which they receive six credits.
To date, the Panama ten have received training in Panama Canal Towboat Section, Marine Traffic Control Unit, Transit Operation Division, Dredging Division, Safety Unit and the Board of Inspectors. But this co-op is far from just work. These cadets have been treated like visiting royalty. Alumni, Marcos Collazos and his family entertained all ten at his beach house near Isla Grande. There was plenty of food, white sand, and kayaking to go around. The group was also invited to view the 60th Annual “Cayuco Race”, paddled through the Panama Canal, “Ocean to Ocean”. Cayucos are made by the Indian natives of Panama out of rough, dug out national trees. Captain Julio Bonilla, designer and coordinator of this co-op program, capped the day with a BBQ serving traditional Panamanian dishes. Food, concerts, shopping trips liberally peppered the classrooms and studying. Home may be where the heart is but some fine memories were made in Panama by these lucky cadets