Hola a todas las familias! I’m Ayushi Gupta from Dougherty Valley High School and I’m reporting live from Matagalpa, Nicaragua as the Leader of the Day or otherwise known as El Lider Del Dia! Today was a super eventful day with an eclectic mix of compassion, bonding, laughter, and creativity from all 21 of our wonderful Glimpsers, our lovely leaders, and the people that we had the good fortune of meeting today. We started off the morning bright and early at 6:30 with a delicious pancake breakfast followed by an hour long seminar on Aid and Development, the topic for today. This day was essentially based on the US-Nicaragua relationship that soured along the way starting before the Nicaraguan Revolution in the late 1980s when US decided to suspend aid to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua led by President Daniel Ortega because of suspected Nicaraguan Communist involvement. In our first seminar, we discussed the pros and cons of providing aid and not providing aid, coming to the overall conclusion that aid is only helpful when directed toward a cause that truly positively impacts the civilians of a region and is given with a proper purpose, as indirect and unnecessary aid simply entangles the US in affairs that only seem to worsen our country’s problems, like our growing deficit.
After a short energizer involving bunnies, carrots, and confused rhythms, we started our second seminar to discuss the process of designing and delivering the Community Action Project (CAP). With the idea of service and making an impact in mind, we took a field trip to Los Mujeres del Plomo, a nonprofit organization created by four women, which aims to raise money and provide tutoring services to children, especially the disabled children of Los Pipitos. Upon arrival, we met the inspirational Maritza, the head of the organization, who gave us a compassionate summary of how the ladies collect seeds from trees as far as 8-10 kilometers in order to keep their seed jewelry making business running. However, what truly left me and the other Glimpsers shocked was the fact that although this jewelry was so beautiful, the ladies usually had negligent or maybe even no profits, whatsoever. With any money they made, they purchased supplies and materials for Los Pipitos, and tutored young students out of the goodness of their hearts. As we heard her talking about the difficulties her small organization had to go through, including multiple robberies and lack of supplies, we looked around her small workplace and along with a room of creativity, we also saw a lack of a protecting fence, an unpainted tin roof, rented chairs and tables, and work that should’ve been safely carried out with hammers and gloves, being substituted with rocks and bare bloody hands.
We would carry these thoughts not only with us during our time there, but also back to our hostel, as we would use them in deciding our CAP project. After our jewelry making workshop, which we left with accessories for our loved ones back home and huge smiles on our faces, we headed back to the hostel, ready to start putting our ideas and thoughts into action. Back at home, after lunch, we assembled for our second CAP seminar, which, honestly, I was a little anxious about, not only because this would be an enormous part of our impact as Glimpsers during our time in Matagalpa, but also because I had to lead this hour and a half long seminar all by myself (with a little help from the Leaders and Coordinators, of course!). The seminar started off with ideas being thrown around, ranging from shelves to air conditioners, but as a group we were able to decide our basic project idea based on our time with Los Mujeres del Plomo: to renovate and beautify the organization’s workplace, limited by our time and $440 budget. Although we hit a lot of important and difficult decisions based on how the ideas fit with the “Best Test” (Feasibility, Need, Personal Passion, and Community Engagement), we were able to finalize ideas through the use of votes and group negotiations.
Personally, I felt like this brainstorming and design session that we had was something that we should be extremely proud of. There was so much passion present in the room, as everyone was so eager to help these wonderful ladies, and everyone was able to designate roles for the project, by truly pondering upon each of their individual skills and putting them to the best use. We all left this session with a hope in our hearts; hope that we could do something important, and change something about a city that occupied our heart and refused to leave. We ended off our day, with rapid, yet thorough preparation for our English tutoring session that evening, a quick dinner, and a brisk walk to San Luis School, nervous and excited about whether our students from the first session would be present, whether our lesson plans would work, or whether the awkwardness would linger heavily throughout the entire two hour time period. Fortunately, the English sessions this time around were all around much better! We were able to interact with our students more freely, share jokes, and actually enjoy ourselves as we started to become comfortable with the idea of being the ones in front of a classroom of students. We ended our hectic, yet compassionate day with a nightly routine meeting where we discussed the thorns of our day, such as the unfortunate situation of Maritza and the hardworking ladies, and the roses of our day, such as our awesome jewelry pieces, our CAP plan, and our improved English lessons.
We ended the day with a unity clap, chanting the word, “Freedom,” anxious for our next day, our first Free day here in Matagalpa, where we would get the chance to experience the beautiful city as independent students! As for me, as challenging, and many times stressful being El Lider Del Dia was, I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. I learned how hard it is to get and maintain everyone’s attention, how to keep reminding everyone to maintain dress codes, essentials, water consumption, and the topic of the day; but many times in the day, I realized that I was proud of myself, for going through a whole day, and still being ready for many more. Adios, and brace yourselves for more to come!