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JumpstartTU Abroad is a short term intensive experience designed to prepare new TU students for the challenges and opportunities that distinguishes a TU education. JumpstartTU, an introduction to study abroad is designed for the incoming TU student in order to:

• Build curiosity and excitement about university studies,
• Expose entry-level students to global issues in context,
• Expand their lens on the world and other cultures,
• View themselves as players rather than observers,
• And encourage study abroad while at TU.

JumpstartTU Abroad is a one-week experience that blends learning about another country and culture with field experience with local NGOs and intergovernmental agencies in order to discover global issues in an international context. Summer 2019, up to 150 incoming first year students will be selected to participate in JumpstartTU in Panama. Specific costs and details will be made available at time of application.

Date: Two JumpstartTU Sessions will be offered. Each camp will have 75 participating students:

  • June 14-21, 2019 (75 students)
  • July 5-13 (75 students)

You will need the email address and password you used for your TU application to access the JumpstartTU application. If you forgot your password, use the prompts on the login page to create a new one.


Application Deadline: May 1, 2019

Location: Panama

Costs: $500

Total cost:  Cost includes program fee including airfare, accommodations, in-country travel, entrance fees, 3 days field experience with NGO or inter-governmental agency, and some meals.


Panama is the epicenter of the Americas serving as a connecting point between North and South America. The City of Knowledge Foundation is a non-profit city housing over 180 NGOs and intergovernmental agencies conducting research on sustainability pertaining to the environment, economics, policy, education, and women rights and social justice. Located on the former U.S. base for the Canal, the City of Knowledge is a full-service campus designed for student groups. JumpstartTU will expose students to the importance of research on global issues, the unique Biodiversity characteristics of Panama, global trade and world consumption, and the culture of indigenous people and their contributions to Panama. Examples of experiences include a 3-day intensive field experience with TU’s partners, a site visit to Embera Village home to one of five indigenous people, walking tours of the world’s most researched rain forest, sightseeing of natural wildlife in Panama’s variety of national parks and experiences in Casco Viejo & the Historic Panama Canal including the recent expansion.

Jumpstart TU FAQs

What is Jumpstart TU?

Jumpstart TU is a week long program designed to prepare students for university life prior to beginning their first year as a college student. The University of Tulsa is committed to providing the necessary preparation and skills for incoming students and national research shows that students who are connected with peers, faculty and staff prior to beginning college are significantly more successful in transitioning to college.

How does it work?

Students selected to participate in JumpstartTU will receive detailed information regarding the program by Mid-May. Students will be expected to complete some readings and exercises that will prepare them for the week long experience in Panama. The application process provides information on the process, deadlines, and the scholarship application process. The application deadline is May 1, 2019.

Are there scholarships?

No. Scholarships are not available due to the low-cost $500 program fee.  This fee is offered to all students through the generosity of a private foundation.

Who is directing the program?

The Vice Provost for Global Education along with a team of 10 staff/faculty are leading Jumpstart. The team TU are experienced in student services and university life and are well-versed in Panama and the partners that we will utilize throughout the experience. There will be TU representatives with the students throughout the program.

Where do students stay?

The City of Knowledge is a foundation located on what was previously the U.S. base when the United States operated the Panama Canal (https://apps.ciudaddelsaber.org/portal/es/foundation). It is a full scale campus with local markets, an open air pavilion and other amenities.  On the campus is the Holiday Inn where for summer 2019 all Jumpstarters and team leaders will reside.  The Faculty/Staff leaders stay at the same hotel so students have 24/7 access.   More details on amenities (wi-fi is included, for example) will be provided.

Who are our Panamanian Partners?

JumpstartTU will be partnering with 5 organizations in Panama City (Please Note:   Final itineraries will be provided to each student prior to departure.  In some cases minor changes may occur.


MUCEC is a non-profit charity supporting distressed women in Colon, Panama.   Begun in 1985 by the Sisters of Mercy Sister Barbara Ozelski and Sister Dina Altamiranda, MUCEC’s pastoral mission is helping the unemployed and abused women in Colon.  Woman are provided educational sessions on self-identity and feeling empowerment and their children are provided educational day care.  In order to foster a culture of identity and empowerment, MUCEC embraces the motto “Si Podemos” or “Yes We Can.”

The three-day field experience begins with an orientation to the the City of Colon where we will learn the history of Colon through the lens of local Colonese and why the city has come to face significant challenges including sustainability, women and gender issues, and urban challenges such as poor infrastructure, and challenging educational systems.  The day will end at the amazing MUCEC day care center where we will be provided a tour of the facilities.  Day 2 begins with a scenic train ride to Colon aboard the original 19th Century Panama Railway through the Chagres River Basin.  Arriving at MUCEC, we will begin the morning by greeting the children and embarking upon a full day of teaching the children and women nutrition, music, and puppet making.

Our learning experience will conclude with a program and reception with MUCEC where the children and women can showcase what they learned.  We will then depart to Portobelo (Beautiful Port on the Atlantic) as named by Christopher Columbus in 1502 on his fourth voyage to the New World.  This historic village was home to numerous invasions and the Spanish fortification ruins are of great historical interest.


CATHALAC is an international organization founded in 1992 and based in the Republic of Panama, whose mission is to promote sustainable development through education, applied research and technology transfer in watershed management, climate change, analysis and environmental modeling and risk management.  During the JumpstartTU Program, students will participate in a watershed education program to learn about their importance and role in our ecosystems and daily lives.

The three-day field experience begins with the Panama Canal Authority’s presentation on management and conservation of Panama Canal’s Watershed concluding with engaging with a local farmer and his land to see conservation in action.  For Day 2, Team CATHALAC will travel to Chilibre to explore the lower (Chilibrillo) and upper (Cerro Penon) watersheds including conversations with local experts to study land use and urban growth.

Day 3 is full immersion in nature and architecture by traveling to the San Lorenzo Fort (guided by an Achiote guide) and wildlife watching.  Constructed by the Spanish Crown in the 17th and 18th centuries, the original fort dates back to 1595 and sits atop a cliff, overlooking a beautiful portion of the Caribbean Sea and the mouth of the Rio Chagres.  Panama’s most significant military ruins are at Fort San Lorenzo, once part of a key defense system for transatlantic trade. The afternoon will conclude with a visit to El Tucan Ecological Center where local actors involved in ecotourism activities will present a workshop on community-based ecotourism.


Geoversity is an ecosystem of leaders and organizations collaborating in the pursuit of breakthroughs in human design, enterprise, and creative expression that are inspired by nature.  Geoversity strives to bring about a popular shift in worldview, moving away from values and practices that set humankind apart from nature, toward a fully evolved oneness with nature.  The Geoversity secretariat is administered by the Earth Train Foundation, a U.S. public educational charity, and Fundación Earth Train, a not-for-profit foundation based in the Republic of Panama.

Team Geoversity will spend 3 days in the field studying the indigenous Ejua So territory, Gun Hill (part of the Camino de Cruces National Park) and Amador Causeway built from materials from the Panama Canal excavation.  Day One will begin by traveling via dugout canoes to the Embera Drua community where community authorities will share their plans for governance and development within the National Park and Panama Canal Authority.  Participants will learn about the importance of the Chagres River to every day living.

Day 2 begins with a presentation on Gun Hill, a conservation initiative in the back yard of the City of Knowledge where JumpstartTU resides.  The day will include a trek up the hill to explore issues related to land use and sustainability and will include further exploration by canoe of the Brazo Cameron lake shore.  Day 3 compares nature with the Amador Causeway and its significant history including the geological and biological history of Panama 2.8 million years ago—the tectonic rise of Panama separated by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  The day will include a tour of the internationally known Biomuseum designed by Frank Gehry and will conclude by exploring the bamboo house in the canopy of the rainforest.


Luna Llena de Tambores was founded in 2010 by Alfredo Hidrovo, artist, musician, songwriter, musical motivator and facilitator, nature photographer and cultural agent of Panama.  Luna Llena de Tambores is a popular monthly festival for Panamanian families that occurs on every full moon night and is magical in that the whole audience (thousands in size) participates in the production by playing the drum.  Hidrovo’s latest project, Music that Heals consists of going into communities of specials needs and social risk where through music and drumming people connect with their happiness which allows them to heal.

Team Luna will begin the three-day experience at the City of Knowledge, home to the Luna headquarters where they will learn about Alfredo, his team and the core values of his work.  After learning drumming techniques, Team Luna will travel to a center for teenagers in Santana—near historic Panama City to offer Music that Heals to these at-risk teens and observe the process’s positive effects on social improvement.

The next two days are immersed with teaching the Music that Heals workshops, beginning with the Congo Culture in Portobelo the team will learn the positive effect of the local school, La Escuelita del Ritmo on this famous city.  Portobelo (Beautiful Port on the Atlantic) was named by Christopher Columbus in 1502 on his fourth voyage to the New World.  This historic village was home to numerous invasions and the Spanish fortification ruins are of great historical interest.  Traveling by boat to Puerto Frances, students will learn to dance in Congo tradition on this small private area of Portobelo and will learn further about this rich culture.

The final workshop being held in Paraiso, Panama at the Luz y Vida nursing home for the elderly where students will drum with the residence to teach music as therapy for the aging.  The afternoon will be spent debriefing lessons learned and sharing experiences from the Music that Heals program.


Olga Sinclair, following her famous father’s (Alfredo) footsteps, became a world renown Panamanian artist in her own right.  Following her dream to teach children art as a means of countering violence, in 2010 she created the Fundacion Olga Sinclair (FOS) where workshops from across the world teach young children the power of music, meditation, and art as a path way to “artistic impression and promotion of socio-cultural and racial union.”  FOS well-known art workshops have inspired over 85,000 children across the globe.

Team Sinclair will begin the three-day field experience by first traveling to San Felipe’s community near historic Panama City to the headquarters of FOS where they will learn the non-profit’s core mission, values and curriculum of the workshops.  Ms. Sinclair will visit with the team and talk about her work and commitment to the foundation.  It is here where the first workshop will be offered to the children of San Felipe followed by a guided tour of the architecture of Casco Antiguo Panama’s historic district and the Panama Canal Museum built in 1874.

The next two days the team will travel to areas outside of the city such as El Valle and Portobelo to offer workshops to school children and experience the local culture of Panama.  Each of these areas have unique features such as the luscious green forest and second largest volcano crater in the world located in El Valle, and Portebelo, named by Christopher Columbus in 1502, located on the Atlantic is home to some of the most famous Spanish fortification ruins. The Fundacion Olga Sinclair’s schedule of workshops is continuously growing so the specific locations for the workshops may change from the time of this publication.


What is included in the program?

The Program is designed to be a guided package meaning students will be provided transportation from the airport to residence hall check-in upon arrival to Panama. Transportation is provided throughout the week guided by our local experts and TU faculty/staff. All entrance fees are taken care of and the 3 day field experience is guided by our local experts. Students should be prepared for $30 U.S. dollars per day for meals. Some meals are included including 3 dinners and a closing banquet.


What is Panama like?

Panama is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Being the major trade hub with the Panama Canal, companies from across the globe trade through Panama. In the heart of the rainforest, Panama is a humid and tropical, yet a beautiful country surrounded by the Pacific to the south and the Atlantic to the North. Because of the U.S. control of the Canal until 1999, Panama utilizes U.S. Currency and there is just one-hour difference in time. And yet it is culturally rich making it a wonderful location particularly for individuals experiencing another country for the first time.


How does my student get to Panama?

TU staff will work with each student to make sure the details are in place. We are currently in the process of airline reservations and depending upon the demographics of the Jumpstart students, we may have two departure cities—Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. Jumpstart students will be accompanied by TU faculty/staff. More details will be included with registration.


Does my student need a passport?

Yes.  Passports can take 6 to 8 weeks so it is recommended if your student does not have a current passport that they begin the process now.  The passport is good for 10 years so it is well worth the investment whether or not your students goes to Panama.  You can get an expedited passport in approximately 2 weeks, however, it is more expensive.  Most countries require a passport have at least six months left prior to expiration.  If your student’s passport will expire within six months, we recommend you have it renewed now.


Does my student need vaccines?

Please consult your healthcare provider to determine whether or not you want your student to have any vaccines.  For your information, we do have walks in the rainforest and national parks in the Panama City area.  We do not travel deep into the jungles near Columbia, for example.