My Life Changing Trip to Nicaragua - My Family Travels

When someone tells you that a two week trip to a foreign country can be truly life changing, you normally take it as a bit of an exaggeration.  When my dad approached me about a volunteer opportunity to Nicaragua, I was hesitant. I thought he overstated the impact of serving on a mission’s trip with my church.  However, I was wrong. To my surprise, the trip was life changing beyond my father’s description.  It was during this trip that my passion for helping those less fortunate was born.

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

Reality set in as I walked through the streets of Nicaragua. It was our first venture out as a group, and it did not take long to recognize that we were far from home.  As our team passed by houses made of clay and rusted tin roofs, I immediately became grateful for having a solid roof over my head.  We performed our skits for the children in a stark, sheet metal, one room church.  We then met with the doctors from our mission team in a temporary medical clinic.  A portrait of those waiting to enter this clinic was etched into my mind.  As the sun set on the clinic, the group leader announced reluctantly that the clinic would be closing for the night.  Distress and frustration came over me.  I could not bear to think that when I left in two weeks, there would continue to be a lack of necessities for the people of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

The next day, Matagalpa’s ubiquitous poverty still surrounded me, but my perspective and emotions would change.  It was my turn in the team’s rotation to dress as the clown.  My purpose was not only to entertain, but to invite the nationals to our team’s medical clinic. I gestured to the first group of children I saw and in broken Spanish invited them to join me in the center of the road.  I could not help but laugh as the children jumped up and tried to grab my bright red nose.  I then noticed the glistening eyes of parents as they watched their children laugh at my amateur magic tricks.  Within minutes, a crowd grew around me.  My focus shifted from the impoverished homes to the beaming smiles of children.  This experience as a clown helped me realize the importance of serving others.  I recognized the fact that I may not have been able to eliminate the poverty of Nicaragua, but I still had the ability to make a difference.  By performing skits, dressing up as a clown, and guiding Nicaraguans to medical treatment, I was able to brighten a family’s day with some hope and humor.   Two weeks later, I boarded a plane and returned home, but the spirit of hope, compassion and humanitarianism would not be left behind.

I hope that I am granted the opportunity to receive the scholarship from  This trip to Nicaragua was truly life changing and formed me into the person and student that I am today.  This scholarship will aid me in funding my college education and guide me in my dream of becoming a doctor and being able to volunteer around the world.  Hopefully one day, I could even pass on the stories of my travels around the world to my future children and eventually take them on trips that will benefit them in the same way that my trip to Nicaragua benefitted me. 

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