“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries he may learn to improve his own and if fortune carries him to worse he may learn to enjoy it” Samuel Johnson No electricity, no plumbing, no purified water, a scarcity of food, no family to depend on; these were the conditions I faced when I traveled to Nicaragua. From the culture, beautiful scenery, to working with community members to build a school for their village; this travel experience opened my mind to diversity socially, culturally, and intellectually. It has also helped to change the lives of Nicaraguans in Los Soledad.
Recently I was chosen to embark on a life changing journey in which I built a school in Nicaragua. I’m sure you can imagine the joy on my face when I got the acceptance letter for buildOn Trek for Knowledge in the mail. However, little did I know what was in store. From the moment I departed from the U.S; I was embraced in a whole new world. Not only leaving behind my family, friends, and technology but most of the all the entire world I had become complacent in.
After a four hour flight, two hour bus ride to Managua, and finally an additional two hour bus ride I arrived in the mountainous community of Los Soledad, Nicaragua. I was in a remote village surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys. The view of the horizon was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Living in the metropolitan Detroit area, I had never seen so much greenery. I climbed mountains and saw many shades of little dots of blue and red, where the flowers popped up.
While on this journey I learned travel is more than just sightseeing, it is a change that continues in the thought of living. Although the view was amazing I had to keep in mind the importance of why I was there: to build a school. The pervious school was on the porch of a wooden shack. All the children would crowd in tightly into the “classroom”. This condition definitely hindered learning. Despite these conditions they were so enthusiastic. I was building this school to allow children the opportunity to learn and to show the importance of education.
There in Los Soledad basic education could save lives. For example, until we arrived people there did not have latrines. Instead, they used the bathroom in the woods. As a result children became sick and had even died. This school gives them the knowledge that will allow them to lead healthy lives.
This experience helped me to understand and further anticipate learning the culture of others; I became emerged in Spanish culture of which I knew nothing of. I overcame both language and cultural barriers. Even though this experience cannot prevent bigotry by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry and die. I have helped to introduce the idea that if we try to help and understand one another we can make a difference and a few friends along the way. Most importantly, I gained a new found appreciation for the opportunities we here in America have. Many students take for granted the chance, even the option, of schooling. We often find ourselves saying “I wished I didn’t have to go to school”. While we easily forget others wish they could go. I may never have another experience like this but I know this traveling experience has given children the hope for a better future.
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