When you’re a fifteen year old girl living in the U.S, you think you know how to deal with change like a chameleon knows how to deal with color. Running fashion trends and the latest Twitter update, American culture appears to be a never ending cycle of change. Yet in retrospect, is what we Americans experience on an everyday basis real change?
Arriving in Managua, Nicaragua I was warmly embraced by the crisp sun, chunky tropical trees and a school bus prepared to take us to our destination: the impoverished village of Valle Los Cruces. There, with a non-profit called Build On, we would construct a school to encourage education.
As we ventured through miles of dirt pathways, I admired the outside views full of vivid greens. Before I knew it, we arrived. The whole village was there welcoming us; arms wide open, figuratively, and eyes wide open, literally. We were quickly accommodated and led to the homes of our host families.
The deep black sky scattered with luminous stars suggested that it was late and as tired as I was, I found it nearly impossible to sleep. The cooing of mysterious animals was a distractor and the unfamiliarness to the time zone added to the discomfort. Minutes flew by but something else did too. Along with the badgering sounds of crickets, I heard uncoordinated rhythms of wing-flapping. I couldn’t resist the temptation to check what was flying around. In a stealthy manner I ran out the room and looked around. All I could see was a tall tree.The flapping continued. My pupils dilated, heart-racing, fear rippling through my body. All of a sudden a large thump set off a sharp shriek from my mouth. My host mother woke up and rushed to my aid. I soon learned that it was just a hen. My mother explained that the hens don’t sleep but climb up the trees at night. In an embarrassed manner I returned to my cot and fell asleep.
The following day our group journeyed to Don Montenegro’s house, a more distinguished man in the village, who agreed to teach us about the importance of their coffee plantations. There I had noticed the fields filled with rows of young 2-foot coffee plants. Little did I know that those little plants were bigger than me, so to speak. These people, of Valle Los Cruces, survived on those coffee plantations. A bad weather season meant poor quality coffee which meant no money. Their ability to eat solely depended on the roll of dice by mother nature. They were true adapters to change. It was just like that hen in the tree. The hen stayed in the tree from sunset to sunrise, watching the world go by at a distance until he could return to ground and see his way around to eat. The people of Valle Los Cruces could only do the same. They could plant the coffee seeds and at a distance wait until they were successfully grown. Yet if the rain never came for the coffee planters and the sun never rose for the hen, they’d be prepared to meet with change, the type that would transform their lives forever.
So I know now that the next time I experience my type of first-world “change” be it a clothing trend or a new slang word, I will still get to eat and go on with my life. But in Nicaragua when they have to experience their change, they may not be able to do either.
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