Our Mission
Unexpected Moments of Magic Panama is dedicated to empowering individuals worldwide through the encouragement of self-exploration through social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, philanthropy and education as powerful forces for worldwide change. Be the change!

Expectations & Responsibilities
During your time as a volunteer in Panama you are a representative of UMMP, and also your home country. You will be looked upon as a role model and your behavior will be examined by the local community. With this in mind we ask that you are considerate of your actions and the lasting affect they may have on the relationship between the local community and future volunteers which will come after you have gone home.

Code of Conduct (Click to download)
Volunteer expectations and responsibilities are formalized in the Code of Conduct. The Code sets out the standards of behavior which are expected of you as a volunteer by coordinating staff at UMMP, the Directors at your project, and the providers of your accommodation. Breaches of the Code are taken seriously and may result in termination of your placement without further recourse on the possibility of compensation. All volunteers are required to sign the Code during the Orientation period at the start of the program in Panama. Your participation in the program is reliant on signing the Code. We recommend you view the Code before you travel.

Personal Conduct
Role Model: We ask you to remember when volunteering in Panama you are seen as a role model so it is necessary to conduct yourself as such with at all times. This includes being aware of your actions, your speech and personal hygiene.

Work style: As a volunteer you are expected to possess a positive outlook and a proactive style of work. Although UMMP will provide the basis for the project you will take part in, volunteers are expected to bring their own knowledge, skills and ideas with them in order for the program to be successful. Therefore, volunteers are encouraged to use initiative and take a hands-on approach to their work. Volunteers are welcome to set up new project initiatives but please be sure to be discuss any new projects with onsite staff at your placement and with UMMP staff beforehand to ensure it is appropriate and beneficial to the community.

Dealing with a different culture: It is important to remember that you are dealing with another culture when you are volunteering internationally. This may seem obvious but it is easy to forget what this means. You will discover a new culture which has a different set of expectations and behaviors - simply said, another way of life. How you approach a particular situation in your own country does not necessarily mean it is appropriate to handle it in the same way in Panama. Your time and commitment to the program is valued by the community but please remember you are a guest of the country, so take the time to learn and understand how things are done and respond appropriately. Remember you will be looked upon as a representative of your homeland!

Dealing with problems during your program: If you should experience any problems at your project, your accommodation, or with another volunteer please let us know as soon as possible. Remember if we do not know a problem exists we are not able to resolve it. We appreciate your open communication to allow us to solve the issue before your departure. UMMP is like a large family, and with any large family, we understand there may be challenges, but we do our best to work through them together.

Taking Time-off: If you plan to do some traveling in Panama during your volunteer time, please inform UMMP staff prior so we can make the proper arrangements for your time away. If you are taking a day off because you are sick or need to run an errand on a work day you will need to notify your project supervisor in advance so they can plan for your absence.

Responsible Tourism
Responsible tourism is about travelers making positive choices that are environmentally friendly, sustainable, ethical and respectful to the local community and environment. It is also about taking responsibility for your actions and behavior. As a traveler you should:
  • Learn the country: learn keywords in the local language and be mindful of religious and social customs.
  • Know the appropriate cultural behavior: respect the dignity and privacy of others - ask before taking photos; dress and behave respectfully especially in villages, religious and cultural areas.
  • Protect the endangered plants and animals: do not purchase wildlife products, such as ivory and skins; don't by products made from coral or other endangered plants; and only buy wood carvings that come from a renewable, sustainable source.
  • Support local initiatives: purchase local products, arts, crafts; eat local rather than imported food; and support local tour operators and stay in locally owned accommodation.
  • Pay a fair price: 50 cents may not mean much to you, but it may be a meal for the vendor; and pay a price that reflects what something is worth.
  • Minimize environmental impact: always recycle at the Volunteer House, reuse your drink bottles, and say "NO" to plastic bags; minimize water and power use; and choose environmentally responsible tour operators.
  • Think about your impact: remember you are a guest: don't do anything you wouldn't do at home; and make your trip a positive experience for both you and the people in the country you visit.
Local Laws
During your volunteer time it is expected that you follow the local laws and regulations. If you commit an illegal act you will be tried equivalent to a Panamanian citizen. UMMP will not be responsible for assisting you if local laws are not adhered to and if penalties are enforced. It is also unlikely that you will receive any support from your embassy or home Government, depending on the situation. Whether you are a Panamanian or a foreigner, laws are laws and must be obeyed by all!