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The art of ikebana, the Japanese philosophy and style of flower arrangements, is alive and well in Panama. A branch of Ikebana International, a cultural program founded by an American in Japan, has operated in Panama since 2009. In the spirit of inter-cultural exchange, the group began work with 5th and 6th grade children in Panamanian public schools, most notably with the Escuela del Japón (“School of Japan”) located in Bethania.
“We like to bring ikebana and Japanese history to the kids,” said Pilar Pravia Hasebe, Ikebana International Panama Chapter’s Founding President. “We always find a way to relate it back to Panama’s own natural beauty.”
“Our volunteers enrich the lives of these young students. “We have done origami workshops with the children as well.”
Escuela del Japón, as its name might imply, does not cater exclusively to Japanese students. It is the name petitioned for and won by the residents of the area for their school, a public facility operated by the Ministry of Education. Its student body reflects the diversity of Panama’s urban community.
As a non-profit organization, Ikebana International holds fundraising events from time to time, which have included talks on Japanese culture, the display of privately owned Edo-period antiques and demonstrations in the use of ancient hibachi (charcoal burners).
To become involved as a member of Ikebana International, contact the local chapter at 6672-8815, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ikebanahq.org.