The Jungle Project - Kalu Yala, Panama -

 Casco Viejo, Panama

Casco Viejo, Panama

Following my time with artisans in Peru, I journeyed north to Panama to work with the jungle-tough institute directors at Kalu Yala. Kalu Yala is a new village being built in a Panamanian river valley to bring together entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and modern day romantics. [There, they] are reimagining what's possible from life and designing an optimized model of living to share with the world. As founder Jimmy Stice told me, you can’t build a town without a school, so I landed in the valley to help the team to start laying the groundwork for a world-class K12 school at Kalu Yala.

 For your first visit, it's custom to enter Kalu Yala by foot.  Photo credit: Kalu Yala

For your first visit, it's custom to enter Kalu Yala by foot.  Photo credit: Kalu Yala

The Challenge

How might we design a school in the remote jungle of Panama which will serve Kalu Yala residents and local San Miguel county students alike?

Design Proposal

  1. Create an early vision for the local team and future residents to enable conversations, develop experiments, and build excitement for a K12 school that attracts the best educators and a diverse student body.

  2. Design a school founded on the principles of academic rigor, design thinking, entrepreneurship, and jungle grit.

  3. Provide the team with a plan to put stakes (both literal and metaphorical) in the ground around educating a future wave of makers, thinkers, and creative doers.

 Kalu Yala library

Kalu Yala library

Research Plan

Kalu Yala’s current educational offering is available for college-age students and above, with programs varying from biology to culinary arts, from health and wellness to design thinking and education. Currently, the campus is split between Kalu Yala, where most of the programs are housed, and San Miguel. The San Miguel Campus hosts the community focused programs of health and wellness and education. To get a lay of the land, I’ll be splitting my time between living in the jungle village at Kalu Yala, at the shared house in San Miguel, and in Panama City meeting with a variety of educational institutions including the Ministry of Education.

 Brightly-colored 1950s school buses provide public transit to San Miguel. 

Brightly-colored 1950s school buses provide public transit to San Miguel. 


I’m currently asking myself:

 

  • How might we design an innovative educational business model that can sustain Kalu Yala and San Miguel students alike?

  • How might we develop and run K12 prototypes now, in order to drive the future design of the school?

  • How might we design for parents, students, and educators with a nomadic lifestyle?

  • How might we find, engage, and magnetize the ideal educators to Kalu Yala?

  • How might we establish a culture of sharing between Kalu Yala educators and local educators?

 Becoming 'jungle-tough' means finding peace with fire ants,  arañas , and the territorial  Serpiente X  and/or being incredibly vigilant about keeping your tent zipped. 

Becoming 'jungle-tough' means finding peace with fire ants, arañas, and the territorial Serpiente X and/or being incredibly vigilant about keeping your tent zipped. 

Elysa FenenbockComment