Kenia Alvarez knows full well about the economic advantages of living in the United States, particularly Western North Carolina (WNC), thanks to the Sylva, Franklin, and Cashiers Rotary Clubs. Complimentary of the latter organizations, Alvarez embarked on a four week tour of WNC to observe higher education institutions and public school systems throughout the region, spending the week of Feb. 6-10 in Macon County.
In 2004, a member of the Rotary Club of Boquete, Panama contacted Sylva’s Rotary Club and asked for help with funding for school supplies. That initial request ultimately culminated into Project Panama, an initiative aimed at increasing awareness and collaboration efforts between WNC and Panamanian communities. The project is why Alvarez, who has been a public school teacher in Panama for ten years, was given the opportunity to gain a new perspective on teaching by visiting Southern Appalachia for the first time. When asked what she has liked and disliked about the area, she responded that there was not a single thing she did not enjoy about the mountains of WNC, while also expressing her appreciation for the beauty and cleanliness of the Blue Ridge Mountains.