Day 7 of the trip everyone woke up exhausted. The constant humidity and heat had become almost unbearable, but the group was still eager for more of what Leon had to offer. Like every morning prior, we had breakfast at Quiero Mas. Don Luis prepared omelets with ham and cheese, fresh fruits and a sweet yet tangy pitya fruit drink for us. The group became awake with the smell and taste of delicious food. We were ready to begin the day.
Today, we continued to explore education here in Nicaragua. While yesterday we only had a brief chance to visit one school, we were going to visit a primary school as well as a private secondary school in which we were going to shadow a Nicaraguan high schooler.
We started our day’s journey by taking the public bus to Jacinto y Francisca, the primary school. This was the second time we had taken public transportation and I must say we were all adapting to it very well. The bus wasn’t nearly as crowded as I remembered it to be and we were ready for the sudden stops and turns and the heated atmosphere. When we got off the bus, the group instantly noticed that the neighborhood that the primary school was located in was an extremely nice neighborhood. The ground was evenly paved and the houses were built with beautiful designs and colors. We were told that this was one of the nicest, and richest neighborhoods of Leon so we expected the primary school to be well structured and qualitied as well. However, once we entered the gate into the primary school, we were introduced to a completely different dimension. The space was not only a primary school but an orphanage as well. Although the school was not comparable to the poor conditions of the community school that we had visited a couple of days ago, it was still noticeably lacking in resources. Regardless, the kids were still wonderfully sweet and greeted all of us with big smiles and warm hugs. First, we were directed into a fifth grade classroom. The kids formed a circle with us and we started to get to know them a little bit. They were a bit shy at first but with a little bit of time, they were screaming and shouting with their big smiles to tell us their hopes and dreams and singing the national anthem with their precious voices.
Next, we had the chance to play with some preschoolers. I was aware that some of the people in the group were doubtful that they would be unable to have fun with the little ones because of the language barrier. However, as soon as we entered the room, the little boys and girls with their big eyes just melted everyone’s hearts. One boy, Marvin, grabbed my hand with his tiny fingers immediately and proudly showed me his notebook of ABCs and 123s. Although I didn’t know how to say anything in Spanish other than “My name is Jennie”, I felt extremely close to that little boy. Others in the group were having the same experience. Some were playing with toys with the preschoolers, some were drawing, and some were playing hide and seek. The little ones loved our cameras. They would grab it from our hands and start taking many pictures of us and their peers with their newfound toy. Time flew by and the next thing I knew, we had to say our goodbyes. We also had the chance to tour the orphanage. Even though we didn’t meet the kids that were in the orphanage because they were all in school, we felt their presence with the cute drawings in their rooms and their neatly handwritten schedule. The nun that ran the orphanage told us that although they do not have much, they are grateful and happy. She also told us that the orphanage often needs donations but those that donate to help the orphanage were never people from the nice, rich neighborhood that surrounds the school and orphanage. I was caught off guard when receiving that bit of information because it made no sense to me why people with so much wouldn’t willingly offer a little bit to those with so little.
After the tour of the primary school and the orphanage, we took the bus back to our hostel. Everyone was starved and was happy to hear that it was lunch time. Again, we had our meal at Quiero Mas. For lunch we had fried rice and pork with iced tea. The food was delicious and the chatter in the restaurant was louder than ever. I really believe that every day, every hour, the group becomes closer and closer.
As soon as we finished lunch, we quickly walked to Colegio Bautista, a private secondary school to shadow our very own Nicaraguan high schooler. We had to wear a white shirt and navy tops to match the school’s uniforms. We were divided into groups of five and then sent to different classes. I was partnered with Arianna Rivas, a seventeen year old girl who plans to graduate this year. I felt nervous at first about the shadowing because of the language barrier. Fortunate enough, Arianna spoke English quite fluently and we were able to communicate very well. First, we attended P.E. together. Although the class was mostly in the shade, the heat and humidity made my sweat soak into every part of my shirt. Boys and girls were separated into two sides as we did stretches and workouts. Thankfully, there were a lot of water breaks in between. Her second class, Philosophy, was a far better experience for me. Arianna surprised me when she told me her next class was Philosophy; I thought that she had mistranslated. It caught me off guard that a Nicaraguan high school offered a wide variety of classes. As we entered the classroom, I noticed that there were fans installed all around the classroom to keep the students cool. The teacher did not assign the seats so Arianna just told me to sit by her friends and her. In the class, I found many similarities to the classrooms back in the U.S. There were the students that paid attention, those that talked out of line, those that played on their cell phones, and those that were sleeping. Although I only understood part of the class by Arianna’s translations or cognitives on the board, Philosophy truly interested me. The teacher was talking about how humans had feelings, attitudes and masks. Also he elaborated on social philosophy as well as the conditions of humans. The class ended with a group discussion about a humanity quote. I believe classes like Arianna’s philosophy class reaffirms the importance of education in a developing country because they shape the thought process and decisions of future citizens and leaders. Two hours passed by in a blink of an eye and I found myself reluctant to leave my new friend Arianna and her school. We promised that we would keep in touch and planned to meet again soon.
When the group returned to the hostel, we eagerly shared our Nicaraguan high school experience with each other and started to prepare for our nightly English tutoring. We went to dinner at Quiero Mas, quickly ate our meal of rice, beans and stewed beef with a tamarind and chia seed drink and headed to English tutoring at the university. We finished the day with our nightly meetings and once again, I feel like our group’s bond grew stronger.
As leader of the day, it was my responsibility to wake everyone up, make sure the group was on schedule, and motivate my peers. It was a challenging task but the group was extremely respectful and supportive the whole day. This experience has made one thing very clear: I want to be a caring and positive leader when I grow up. No matter what type of career I pursue, I should always genuinely care for others around me and always keep a positive attitude. That way I will be able to earn their respect, support, and trust.
Thank you, Global Glimpse.