MHS Spanish class creates Panamanian culture ‘Molas’

Students from Olga Willey’s Spanish class used their computers to find patterns, designs and ideas in order to complete a hands-on project to learn about Panama’s culture.

MANTI—Olga Willey’s Spanish class at Manti High School is continuing to learn about different cultures and traditions throughout the world.
Last week, Willey’s class studied the country of Panama and took part in a hands-on exercise of designing and creating Molas—a traditional dress or blouse made from colored fabrics of different shapes and sizes, which are cut out and stitched together to create intricate patterns, Willey said.

The technique is practiced by the women of the Kuna Tribe in Panama’s San Blas Islands, which is an archipelago located off the north coast and east of the Panama Canal.
Instead of using different colors and types of fabrics, Willey’s student made their Molas out of paper to save expenses, Willey said. The final project resembled mixed-media artwork and the finished pieces were displayed in a large mural in the school hallway.

These Mola replicas from Olga Willey’s Spanish class adorn a hallway at Manti High School. Willey’s students took part in designing Molas—the traditional clothing of the Kuna women from Panama.

Many of the students captured designs and patterns from their computers and cut out the shapes by hand, Willey said. They used everything from Nike logos to pictures of birds.
It’s was nice for the students to learn something about Spanish culture from somewhere other than Mexico, she said.
In keeping with tradition, Willey said she will keep making her Spanish class a window to the world.