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Andrea Kam is a 14-year-old ninth grader at the International School of Panama.

She was selected to be an "Argonaut" for Jason XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads' expedition to Barro Colorado Island, Panama.

Here, she talks to My Hero...

How does it feel to have been chosen, and to represent Panama?

It is a great honor and I'm very thrilled. I think that every Argonaut that is in this year's expedition should be very honored and happy to have been chosen. In the U.S. around 1,000 kids applied and only 22 were chosen. Here in Panama, five schools were asked to select two kids. Out of ten, I was one of them.

Beautiful leaves in the Panama rainforest.
How did you become involved with the Jason Project?

It all started when my biology teacher asked me if I would be interested in participating. I filled out some application forms and a couple of weeks later I had an interview at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). Sometime later, they called to tell me that I was officially an Argonaut!

What do you hope to learn/gain from this experience?

I know that we'll be able to learn a lot. First of all, we're working with kids from other places -- that teaches group work and cooperation -- as well as with scientists who are interested in everything that happens in Barro Colorado Island (BCI). Second, we're going to be studying a country that has huge biodiversity and an interesting culture. There is no way that we're going to leave the island without having learned all of the different aspects of the area.

The agouti, a small squirrel-like animal, plays an important role in the rainforest. It hides tree seeds, many of which later grow to full trees, and it is also an important food source for larger creatures.
What do you want as your future career? Do you think it will be something in science?

Well, I'm more inclined to a career in public relations and letters (my favorite subjects are English and Spanish), but it all depends on time...who knows? Maybe I'll end up being a scientist working for the STRI.

How does your family/community/school feel about you having been chosen?

They are very happy for me because they know that it is a great experience and that I'll be able to learn so much. Everyone, from the school to my family, has been very supportive and are ready to help me anytime.

A small bat is examined and measured by Dr. Elisabeth Kalko (left) and Theresa Singh-Angel (right).
Who is YOUR hero?

There are MANY scientists who, in my opinion, deserve to be called "heroes" and naming just one or two wouldn't be fair. I think that any person who does something in order to change the world for the better should be considered a hero.

How do you feel about the Jason Project coming to Panama?

I think it's super! Panama has hosted few projects such as this and I think that it will teach everyone, from the international press to its own people, that Panama has a lot to give as a country. It is a great project and I'm very happy to be part of it this year. The fact that they do all of this for young people is great, and the experience that we obtain is priceless. I think that this year is going to be one of the best expeditions.

A mother howler monkey and her baby together in the branches of a tree.
Tell us more about Panama, and your life there. Is there anything you’d like to tell kids from around the world about Panama?

Panama is a unique country. It's true that all countries are unique, but Panama has a lot of things that make it really different from others: the canal, all of its rainforests and biodiversity, its beaches and its people, just to name a few. I am a Panamanian and have lived here all of my life...and I'm proud of it.

Last changed on: 6/14/2004 11:22:14 AM

The Smithsonian Tropical Rainforest Institute in Panama whose mission is to "increase understanding of the past, present, and future of tropical biodiversity and its relevance to human welfare" has worked hand in hand with the Jason Project in bringing Jason XV to Panama.

The Jason Project: Visit this site for further information about the project, as well as the current expedition, Jason XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads.

Maria Victoria Ferrara is a Panamanian student who will be joining Andrea as an Argonaut in Jason XV

Jason XV's Argonauts: A complete list of this year's student argonauts

Jason XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads gives additional information about the expedition, Panama,and more

To read about Andrea Kam in Spanish, click here to visit Mi Heroe’s Andrea Kam story.

Magic Web: The Forest of Barro Colorado Island
by Egbert Giles Leigh

by Tricia Haynes

Why are the Rain Forests Vanishing
by Isaac Asimov
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