For three weeks during the summer of 2011, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with a group of peers and two teacher coordinators, to Leon, Nicaragua.
We started off our adventure learning about Nicaragua’s history, and how the United States played a major role in forming their government. In school, our history text books never display the U.S as flawed, so we don’t learn about the not-so-great things our country has done. Hence, learning about our involvement in Nicaragua and Reagan’s presidency was all new to us. Wherever we walked, there seemed to be a mural manifesting major historical events, and music blaring everywhere. Nicaragua’s culture is so rich, and the people are proud and content with their lives. It was moments like these in which the group realized how privileged we are, and how numerous Americans are not content with what they have. Many people brought iPods with them, and we also realized how this single device was worth more money than most Nicaraguans will ever earn in a few years.
To continue opening our eyes to the capitalism and arrogance which exists in America, the coordinators took us to a village strewn with poverty. We broke into groups to visit families and spend a few hours with them, working in the fields and getting to know their lifestyle. My group visited a widow’s family consisting of 7 other members plus many farm animals. We worked with machetes to cut down weeds in order to plant corn, which in the scorching heat, was not ideal for anyone. After lunch, we talked with the woman and found out how difficult life is for all of them. In order to sell crops or attain medical care when sick or injured, they walk two hours to get to Leon, and two hours back home. Without a man in their family, the woman has to tend to the animals, and take care of the field, disallowing her to feed her family quite often. Being a widow also means she lacks protection, which keeps her in constant fear. Spending a few hours with this woman and her family truly humbled us, and the smile on their faces after receiving donations will forever remain in our hearts.
During the program, we also met with local community leaders and performed hands-on service to fulfill both local and global community needs. When restoring the revolution museum, we preserved original artifacts, photographs, and articles using frames and glass to protect them, as well as repaint their walls. Giving back felt great, especially after receiving us with such kindness.
On one of our free days, the coordinators took us to El Cerro Negro â€“ Black Volcano. This active volcano is famous in Nicaragua, and attracts many tourists. We hiked up the rocky terrain, took MANY pictures at the top and near the crater, and finally made our way down. This volcanic adventure is particularly known for the trek down; it’s similar to bouncing on the moon! Some sand boarded down the volcano, while others came up with innovative ways to go back down; we bounced, rolled, slid, and ran uncontrollably. This was definitely a highlight of the trip, and is recommended for any adventurers!
All in all, these three weeks away from home was quite a thrill. Experiencing a variety of emotions when confronting all these challenges allowed all of us to broaden our global perspective.
By traveling to places like Nicaragua, I hope to bring back a better understanding of how we, as citizens, impact other communities around the world.
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