Before my trip to Nicaragua, I wasn’t comfortable and confident with public speaking. When the time came to present a report in front of my class; I would shut down and get nervous, stutter, shake, and my voice would begin to crack. Just the look on my face gave away my awkwardness. Knowing ahead of time that on this trip everyone had to be the leader of the day, I took that as a huge challenge, especially being in another country and away from family and friends and with complete strangers for three weeks. I questioned myself about being in that leadership role and I didn’t know what to expect outside of my fear. I’ve had leadership roles being on sports teams like basketball and volleyball before but that was with people I’ve grown bonds with over time.
As the day was winding down and the nightly meeting was near, the torches of being “El Lider Del Dia” (leader of the day) would soon be passed on by Michel aka “The LiGend” Li and Linda “Sweetheart” Ye. I wasn’t going to be the leader all by myself, so my friend from second grade, Eric Lopez, would be by my side. The nervous feeling quickly hit me; breathing heavily, palms are sweating, and shaking. But I’ve learned from the previous 12 leaders by examining how they did their jobs and reflected on what we could do to improve. Plus, remembering to be ourselves and not change our personality was important. Meaning, we can still be the funny and joking people we are, but when it’s time to get to work, in a snap, we’re on it. Before being crowned the new leaders, everybody has to overcome a challenge, and our challenge was to recite a poem to one another. By the end of it, everybody found it hilarious because the poems were sort of love poems between two good guy friends, it was comical.
From that point on, until we crowned the next El Lider Del Dia, our roles had begun. We then had to give the group our schedule for the day and make sure everybody got into bed, with the lights out by 10:00pm. That to me was probably the most difficult task to complete because everyone was so energized and unwilling to sleep but I soon got them in bed because we continuously checked on everybody.
We first had to wake everyone up to begin our day at 6:0 0am. I decided to be funny and creative by banging a pot with a wooden spoon to wake everybody up. No leader has done anything creative so it was my chance to be different. It worked perfectly because everybody woke up instantly because they didn’t want to hear the noise anymore. The theme of the day was “Poverty Day”. Some activities we had the chance to lead were going to the city dump, watching a movie related to the theme, having self and group reflection discussions based off what we experienced that day, tutoring English to students, and finally passing on the torch at the nightly meeting.
The expectations I had for the city dump were as I expected. All kinds of trash piled up everywhere; plastic bags, broken electronics, rotten and spoiled food, body parts of dead animals, and any normal trash that was mixed with dirt. The smell that was given off wasn’t pleasant at all. It was a mixture of spoiled food, feces from a variety of animals there, and straight trash. The problem I had with visiting the dump was that people actually were searching and lived here. I thought that maybe the people of the dump felt disrespected by our stay because it felt like we were basically there “to study” them as if it were a zoo. The tension created, we left in less than an hour and way earlier than planned. To get a full grasp of how the people live at the dump we watched a documentary, Dreaming Nicaragua. It was really eye opening in a sense to appreciate what we as Americans have, especially education because for Nicaraguans, that’s their ticket out. If they don’t have one, unfortunately they’re born into the poverty life.
Another instant that occurred but wasn’t quite a challenge to me was on the way from home from English tutoring was that it was raining. The group was excited because it’s been hot and it felt great to be cool for once. Since we had to lead the way home, it was troublesome because of the wet concrete. We didn’t want any injuries to take place. So we had to be cautious and on our toes watching over everybody.
When it was time to pass on the torch to Sarah Wohlner, her challenge was having a rap battle with Eric. It was insane! Sarah had the time to write a verse, but Eric freestyled the whole thing and it made tons of sense. Not just making an attempt to rhyme, but with actual meaning. This was also the highlight of my day because it was so cool and a joy to listen to.
The things I did learn from being El Lider Del Dia, were to not be scared of being the center of attention and public speaking. I’ve overcome this feat because the day I had as the leader I came to the realization that I have strong leadership capabilities. I’ve always known that I had it in me, but scared to show it. However, the fact that the day flowed so smoothly, being 10 minutes early to every activity that no leader has done so far, and being assertive when we had to then also joke around to brighten the fellow glimpser’s day. I can confidently talk to people that I don’t usually speak to or just public speaking in general. I hope I can continue progressing as a leader by learning new things and putting it on display. Moving onto college soon would be the perfect time to use my newly renovated capabilities. Also, since we as global glimpse only have a few days left in the tank, we need to really appreciate the bond we’ve created and all the memories we’ll have. There probably won’t be another time we get to experience something like this again. I’m for sure going to store this trip in my pocket and look back to it as a vacation but most definitely the chance to enhance my leadership role and also the great times we’ve all had with great people including Ryan Tamaguchi, Stely Tacubo, Javier Mourier, Eric Lopez, Michel Li, Sarah Wohlner, the leaders of the whole trip Chris, Judith, Farima, and Stefany. Last, I hope all of us can reunite, if not all, at least some of us some day and reminisce about this trip and create more.
P.S. A phrase that sums this trip up for me is “Oye! Que Paaasooo!” God bless.
At the early stages in our lives we’re taught the values a leader must possess. When I was asked what it takes to be a leader, I honestly said something that I thought would sound good. I’ve played sports where I was considered to be a leader, but I wasn’t actually a leader because all I cared about was me and no one else. I didn’t care if we won or lost, all I cared about was my stats at the end of the game. I knew the skills that a leader must have, but to actually utilize those skills is something totally different.
Before it was my turn to be a leader, I was concerned that my selfish habits will get in the way of me leading the group. I was afraid that my jokes and sense of humor towards the other Global Glimpse leaders of the day would cost me their respect and trust to lead them the next day. During the nightly meeting my hands were sweating and I felt light headed because I knew I was going to lead one of the most intense days of this whole trip. After Michel aka “Brains” and Linda aka “Sweetheart” said their last words regarding their day as leaders, it was time to pass the torch. As they presented Josh and I with our challenge, reciting a poem about our friendship, I knew that if I wasn’t hysterical I was going to start off on the wrong foot. Luckily Josh and I were able to humor our friends. After Josh and I went over the schedule and rules, everyone had a bit of free time before bed. Making sure everyone went to bed on time was bit of a hassle because everyone was so energetic, but I had to make sure everyone had enough energy for the next day.
I woke up at 5:45 am, after a long night of stressing and sweating, but I couldn’t let my personal issues affect everyone else’s day. Josh and I planned to do something different and wake people up with pots, although many people were quite disturbed by the wakeup call, we still managed to get everyone up and ready ten minutes before we had to depart for breakfast. Josh and I made an agreement that we will be early to every event to make sure we weren’t late.
During breakfast I wanted to sit and interact with some of the Glimpsers I never interacted with before. I wanted them to feel comfortable with me leading them and feel comfortable to come to me if they wanted to talk or needed some advice.
After breakfast we had a poverty seminar where we discussed the question of the day, “what is the difference between poverty in a developing world and poverty in the US?” The statistics on people living in poverty were mind blowing. I was unaware that so many people were living in poverty. I was also unaware that based on your ethnicity, you’re more likely to be in poverty being a person of color.
After the seminar we were off to the dump. When we arrived to the dump I set my mind to look at them as honest workers; I wasn’t going to look at them as if they were inferior to me. They were all human just like me and they all had a family just like me. Walking into the dump felt like a dust storm. Dust was flying everywhere, dogs with possible diseases were running around, horses were searching through garbage, and flies and other insects were attacking the faces of the workers. Despite my discomfort with the dogs and insects, I still kept a positive attitude. The first family we approached was really friendly; they were very open and answered all of our questions .The family we conversed with were on their break after waking up at 3am and arriving to work at 4am. It was around 11:30am when we were talking to them and they still had to continue working because they hadn’t found anything valuable in the heaps of trash that would make them money, despite the difficult eight hours they had put in which turned out to be pointless. They told us that they usually make around thirty Córdobas a day which is a little bit over one dollar in US currency. The fact that they work 11 hour shifts and they make less than a dollar a day is heartbreaking.
Another guy we approached had a story that was a bit similar to the first family we talked to. Luckily for him, he found many valuable things that could possibly get him around 130 cordobas which is a little bit over 5 dollars in US currency, but what we didn’t find out from the first family was that the stuff that they find they still have to try to sell. So not only do they have to find valuable things, they also have to try to sell it after as well, which makes the work even more challenging. This was a man who supported three kids; two kids who were in primary school and one who was in high school. I really admired that man because he wasn’t bitter, he was a proud man who took care of his kids and knew how important it was for them to be in a classroom learning. Even though it would have made his life easier for him to have his kids out there working with him, he put his selfishness to the side and let his kids work in the classroom to have a better life.
Leaving the dump, we allowed everyone to reflect on what they experienced. No yelling. No laughter. No talking. We wanted everyone to be in their own space to really give them time to think. The silence was ended when got to the balcony.
After everyone showered we all met back on balcony to discuss our self-reflection on poverty. Many Glimpsers expressed how they felt we were dehumanizing the workers at the dump and that felt uncomfortable. I couldn’t understand why they felt we were dehumanizing, because we were just asking them questions but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. For me this experience was a wake up call that made me realize how blessed and privileged I am back home in the US. At my job, I have air conditioning, I have access to water, I have access to food, I have easy access to anything a worker in the dump would die for. Going to the dump really opened up my eyes and made me appreciate everything I have because I could have been born into a family that would of made me work in the dump.
After lunch, we watched a documentary that reflected everything we experienced in these past couple of days related to poverty. The movie showed people working in the dump, showed how people live, showed how people viewed life. Although the movie was only forty five minutes long it still touched many Glimpsers’ hearts as they expressed during our group discussion. One part of the movie that stood out to me was this little girl stating she doesn’t like men because they rape and kill people. Hearing this come out of a girl who was not even eight years old yet was really heartbreaking.
After free time, English tutoring prep, and dinner we went down to the school to the university for English tutoring. I felt like English tutoring went well, my lesson plan going into tutoring was to teach the students how to talk during a job interview. It was only one person who showed up in my class, perhaps the rain and lightning going on outside made them stay home, but props to the guy I was tutoring for walking in the rain to sit and learn English for two hours. His dedication and his consistency earned him a huge amount of my respect and appreciation.
On our way back home from tutoring, I kept my eyes on everyone making sure everybody got back to the hostel safely. Coming into the nightly meeting I was anxious about what people had to say about me and Josh’s performance. When it was time for them to give us criticism, everyone had all positive feedback. Everyone liked the way Josh and I worked together and everyone was impressed with our leadership skills.
After being leader of the day it taught me that a leader watches out for everyone on his team, a leader isn’t someone who only looks out for his or her self. A leader is someone who trusts and cares for the people he or she is leading. If I was given the opportunity to be asked what does take to be a leader now, I would have a much more honest answer.