Panamanian Educators Find a Kindred Spirit in Woodford County
Written by Carlos Record, Grasse Silvera, Denis Guerra and Marlene Rodriguez
We were invited for a special dinner at Addie´s restaurant. We dined with Mrs. Nadia Gombeski, who is 92 years old, and is from Taboga Island in Panama and her son Dr. William R. Gombeski Jr. who is Senior Advisor, Office of Executive VP for Health Affairs at UK Health Care. Dr. Gombeski brought a map of Panama and asked us where we are from. We showed them on the map and explained more about the Panama Bilingüe Program and how nice is it to have this experience.
Mrs. Gombeski, was talking to us in Spanish and we were surprised how well she spoke the language. She said, “It has been 15 years since I went to Panama.” She explained that, “My husband passed away 15 years ago. I miss my country, all the month of June I traveled to the Virgen del Carmen aquatic festival, also my husband liked the Latin music in those days”.
Although the years have passed she has good memories from those days and she talked about it with a lot of emotion that gave the impression that it was just yesterday. Her son began to talk about her life in United States, saying, “When my mom was living in Texas, it was very scary because they had a lot of tornadoes and they didn’t feel comfortable. Then they moved to Kentucky.”
Mrs. Gombeski still remembered a lot about Panamanian culture and it was interesting to hear about the dancing, folk music, typical food and her family. She sang “Panameño, Panameño, Panameño, Panameño vida mia yo quiero que tu me lleves al Tambor de la Alegria” and we began to sing with her. Her son saw how happy she was to sing her favorite song and this was a special moment for us.
When we were ready to leave, Mrs. Gombeski said, “Goodbye mis Paisanos!” Even though we were far from Panama, we felt that we were at home. Mrs. Gombeski is a nice lady and her son is a nice gentleman. This was an amazing experience and we loved getting to know them.