August 2017 NewsWave

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Welcome to our monthly newsletter where we keep you up to date on all the latest happenings in Panama. In this edition we are saying goodbye to Jaz and welcoming Sam to the team. Our new TEFL Certification course, the Cristobal Preschool Inauguration, and a water filter project are also highlighted!

Goodbye Jaz!

It is with heavy but full hearts that we say, “Ciao,” to our Director of Education, Jaz Levis! Jaz was tasked with overhauling our various educational programs, managing and training our local lead teachers, and launching our After School program in Old Bank. Jaz proved herself to be an energetic and hands on leader that our local staff and students looked up to as a friend and mentor. Never one to back down from new challenges, Jaz’s passion for Paddle Boarding pushed her to create an entirely new Women’s Outreach and Mentorship Program, which we were able to successfully launch with the help of the Changing Tides Foundation. Jaz’s work for Give & Surf will have a lasting impact on the organization, the communities, and the children, and for this we are forever grateful! We wish you all the best with the next chapter of your life!

Introducing, Samantha Rugamas,
Director of Education

Sam was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and spent most of her youth in El Salvador. After working in the corporate world for some time, she decided to switch gears and become an early childhood educator at a well-loved non-profit preschool in San Francisco, California. During this time she began to explore her passion for education and outreach and helped strengthen her school’s Service Learning and Outreach program. In 2015, she invited some of her colleagues to volunteer teach in Bocas del Toro, Panama and in 2016 she decided to move to the islands indefinitely. Sam is excited to make this transition back into education and to share her love, knowledge and passion for teaching with our local lead teachers!

Thank You Volunteers!

July Volunteers:
Natalie Mitchel, Virginia
Rae Merrigan, Australia
Taylor Love, California
Julia, Schmid, Austria
Julio Lopez + Family, Florida
Kelly Yonston, California
July Interns:
Ross Owyoung, Clinton School of Public Service
Emilie Street, Clinton School of Public Service
Rosa Johnson, George Washington University
Holden Taylor, Indiana University
Reesha Patel, Lehigh University
Paul Capobianco, University of Iowa

TEFL Certification Course

We are excited to announce the creation and launch of a new TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certification Course! Get certified to teach English abroad with our month long, 120 hour course! The course includes 100 hours of training and 20 hours of in-class teaching right here in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Extend your stay and gain even more experience with our TEFL Internship Program or by volunteering with us after your certification course! Job guidance and post-certification support provided! TEFL is one of the fastest growing fields in education and is the perfect opportunity for you to teach and live abroad! Check out giveandsurf/tefl/ for more info!

San Cristobal Preschool Inauguration

The preschool classroom on the island of San Cristobal had its inauguration in late July, making it ready to be used by the over 30 preschool students from the community! The Inauguration was a very special event, with members from the Mayor’s office, Meduca (the Ministry of Education), Give & Surf staff and interns, local teachers, community leaders, and children all in attendance, and Emily Talentino, the Executive Director with Give & Surf, was given the opportunity to do the ribbon cutting! After each representative gave a small speech (children included), a traditional Ngobe dance was performed and then food was served. A huge thanks goes out to Surf for Life, who’s continued partnership with us has enabled the construction of 5 classrooms on 3 different islands! Also thanks to the Naval Academy group that came to paint the school!

Water Filter Installation Project
in Bahia Roja

With the help of Kelly Yonston and the Hope Water Project we were able to install 15 water filters in 15 houses in the community of Bahia Roja! The filters were provided by Hope Water and were brought down by Kelly, who came out with our team for the day going house to house installing the filters! Below is her testimonial on the experience:

“I came to meet the Give and Surf Team through a random series of events; and the small project we completed together ended up being one of the very best parts of my one month stay in Bocas del Toro.  After teaming up with two non-profits in the states who provide high quality water filters to communities in need (Water4Life Ministries and HopeWater); I was then introduced to Drew Berger from Give and Surf to distribute them into the indigenous Ngobe-Bugle community that they work with.

I brought 20 water filters for the Bahia Roja community; to be used at the school (built by Give and Surf!) and for the families in their homes.  At this time, the families simply collected their drinking water in buckets from the rain. This water often causes sickness, especially in the young children, so it was exciting to think that these filters could bring improved health for the community.  Such a simple solution!

After assembling the filters (with the help of a few really smart local kiddos), the Give and Surf team and I went from door to door in the village to show the families the filters, describe to them what it was used for/how it could benefit them, and asked if they were interested in installing it in their family’s bucket (each filter is hooked up to a 5 gallon bucket).  Each family was interested and engaged, accepting the filter.

We reached 15 families and the remaining 5 filters will be used for future projects.  I am so grateful to have been part of this project and to have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with the children in the village.  It was also inspiring to see how much the Give and Surf team creates connection, engagement, and empowerment in the community.   Thank you, all!”

– Kelly Yonston, Give & Surf Volunteer, July, 2017




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Be here! Este Viernes para beneficiar la educación en Bocas del Toro, Panamá.

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La noche incluye comida por Javier Lamarca de El Mercadito Biologico, un bar abierto, y un after party (desliza hacia la derecha) para celebrar el Birthday Boy @ciciliani!Sending✌🏾to the world from Bocas Del Toro 🇵🇦! 📷 : @barkerfoto 
#giveandsurfTake the leap in 2018 to join us as a volunteer, intern, gap year student, or one of our TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) courses! 
Learn more at to dive in! 🌊#giveandsurf 🌊Come be a part of our world at Give & Surf! 🙏
¡Ven a ser parte de nuestro mundo en Give & Surf! 🙏
#giveandsurf 🎥 por Isa {@sisamitty}Splish splashing around with Dora and her Bahia Roja classmates during our monthly field trip! 
At Give & Surf we focus on opening our students up to feeling comfortable in and around the water whether it is in our preschools, SOMP: surf outreach mentorship program, WOMP: women’s outreach mentor ship program, or our swim program! 
We have had the pleasure of teaching over 80 children how to swim, surf, and stand up paddle board! #staysalty #giveandsurfA standing ovation to the Jones’ Family who came down two weeks ago to not only share some Panama good times with their son, friend, brother, and our volunteer coordinator @party_over_here7, but who also whipped up this beautiful remake of the Bahia Honda bathroom and water system! 🙏
Good choice of color too! #gratitude #giveandsurfWe are riding high! New Give and Surf vessel is on its way 🏠! Dream Boat made possible by @blueparroteasthampton and ambassadors @ashleigh_s_rodman and @caverodman 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏! We are over the moon excited to see all that will be made possible in the years to come for education in Bocas because of our new 🚣‍♀️! #gratitudeAs part of Old Bank’s after school program we have introduced Zuli’s students to life on the water. Here we are SUPing thanks to our partners @changingtidesfoundation! #giveandsurfSurround yourself with people who reflect what you want to be just like the 🌊 and 🌌 are with one another! 
Thank you to all those that made #GivingTuesday a day of gratitude as we reflect on all that has been made possible by our family of support this year. 
Every year we roll #GivingTuesday in #GivingDecember so our fundraiser in our profile and link,, is open to receive your support till the end of the year! #gratitude #giveandsurfJust a few hours left to be part of our #GivingTuesday! 🙏and 👏 to all those that have give thus far on this all important day that supports non-profits around the world! #gratitude

Check link in bio 🔝Please consider giving ❤️ to your favorite non-profit on this #GivingTuesday! 
Just $10 will feed 30+ preschoolers for a day of education and fun at school! 
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#giveandsurfA very sweet morning alert that Giving Tuesday is TODAY; an internationally celebrated day to support non-profits from around the world!

Every year we at Give & Surf ask our supporters on this day to support our continued efforts with a donation to leave the world a better place for the communities and individuals we cherish in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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Every individual who donates $50 or more will receive a special hand-crafted token of our appreciation by longtime ambassador Eric Adams! #giveandsurf #givingtuesday

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