I am now in my second rotation at the Bajo Frio project in Chiriqui, Panama. During the rotation I will be involved in the daily project activities by assisting the Project Controller.
The biggest challenge so far
The first period of my stay has obviously been occupied by trying to understand the project, which is in its first year of construction. That means it is mainly blasting, excavation and mass transportation activities on-going, all new to a graduate from Ind.Ec. However, the biggest challenge has so far been the language. The project team within the Owner’s organisation is well spoken in English, but when it comes to the contractors, it is a completely different world.
The meetings are therefore conducted in Spanish, and not in a Berlitz-let’s-learn-a-language style, but with dialects, abbreviations and slang from all over South-America – all in the speed of light. And we are not talking about quick meetings either – more like three hours long. Luckily the meeting agenda is projected on the wall, so at least I am able to follow what we are supposed to talk about.
The thrill you get from grasping that they are talking about hesitation to blast…
Google translate has therefore become a beloved friend the first weeks here at Bajo Frio! As much as it sucks not understanding, it is interesting trying to learn a new language. And the thrill you get from grasping that they are talking about hesitation to blast due to potential void with following flooding can’t be described. The HSE inspectors in the Owner organisation have become my mentors. They speak limited English and thus we become a great team – where they try to teach me Spanish and I try to teach them English when sharing the shuttle bus back and forth to camp site. I am getting there very slowly as I am not a language person, but my ears are adapting.
I am about to take on an project that aims at implementing a quality system for the Owner’s organisation in relation to an upcoming audit late November this year. It sounds interesting with a lot of responsibility and a good portion of Spanish practicing.
Hasta la proxima vez!