Hola avid GGblog readers, family members, and random strangers on the Internet! My name is Bodhi Alarcon, goofball of the delegation and today’s Leader of the Day. I hope you’ve all had a relaxing week and a half so far without your loud and obnoxious – uhm, I mean, extremely vocal – teenagers at home. But don’t worry about them at all; between hour long drives, beautiful hikes, rich historical culture, and screaming at each other about card games, my peers and I have been given plenty of time to rest and refuel for the next day’s activities. The days are always busy here in Nicaragua, and today was no different.
We started the day off bright and early at 7 o’clock to get dressed and ready for the day. After we headed over to our favorite restaurant, Buffet Estelí, we headed back to the hostel for our penultimate seminar about aid and development. Lacking the proper resources needed to run the seminar normally, we improvised (quite literally) the rest of the seminar by acting out the articles we read to the rest of the group in short skits. Thanks to the “Great ANF”(played by Mia and Michael) and “Super CIDA”(played by Leilani) we found out not only how outside aid benefitted Nicaragua, but also how, when implemented incorrectly, it can lead to unwanted consequences. These consequences range from economic dependency to a creation of superiority of one nation over another. It was great to see everyone in the group think about how subtle things we had put into our skit, such as having the “Nicaraguans” sitting down and the “foreign aid” coming in standing up, subconsciously implied various things about social structure and the way we view nations that receive aid. After a few closing remarks, we then prepared to head off to our next activity of the day with Mujeres Ambientalistas.
As we walked over to Mujeres Ambientalistas’ headquarters under the hot Nicaraguan sun, we were glad to find that the area was covered with trees, and in turn had shade everywhere. We crammed into a compact room and waited patiently for our next speaker to begin.
One random conversation about David Spade later, our speaker arrived and started to tell us about the history of Mujeres Ambientalistas. She explained how almost twenty years ago the area that we were in had once been a dump, but a group of women in the community took it upon themselves to sort through the trash and start recycling various items from the dump. The government eventually gave the group the land, and the women set out on miscellaneous projects before they were finally successful with their current one, creating recycled paper. I was happy to hear that these women were brave enough to band together and create a strong community of female leaders. Apart from a few male volunteers, the entire area is female-run. Some workers there are even descendents of the original group that founded the project. After that we got to split into two groups, with half of us buying souvenirs (which I’m sure you’ll all be seeing once we return) and the other half helping create recycled paper. The groups switched places, took a few pictures, and headed off to lunch.
After a hearty lunch, we were all treated to an hour and a half of much needed free time. It was nice to explore the city in our groups and spend our money where we wanted. Don’t worry Papa; I spent my money wisely!
Some of us headed off to Internet cafés while others, like Adrian and Ezra, dashed to our favorite local bakery. Raychelle, Tonet, and others including myself decided to return to the call center to talk to our loved ones and assure them that we’re safe, having a great time, and that we miss them very much. Still others, such as Sam and Nino, stocked up on more goods from the local supermarket. Thankfully everyone made it back to the hostel in time for our next two speakers from the Peace Corps. Carlos and Yessica, a married couple who decided to join the Peace Corps together, came over to the hostel to give us a presentation on what they did, how aid helps and hinders developing countries, and on how important sustainable development is to said nations.
I really appreciated the deep and sincere passion that the volunteers had for what they did, and in the end I’m pretty sure that that passion convinced some of my fellow Glimpsers, such as Josué and Chloé, to join the Peace Corps sometime later on in life. I was really happy to see them and others so inspired.
Next, we prepared briefly for our English classes and afterwards set off for dinner. During dinner, it started raining hard – harder than it’s ever rained since we’ve arrived in Estelí. You could tell which ones of the group were the “I’m always prepared” type, and those who were more of the “I’m wearing shorts please someone let me stand under their umbrella” type, such as myself. As Raychelle (who was wearing her flip flops in the rain) said, some of us are “too California to function.” We trudged on over to the bomberos and were greeted with the excited faces of our students. Although there were less people attending the English classes than usual because of the weather, all in all it was still a very upbeat and successful class.
You could see not only the enthusiasm in the teachers’ eyes, but the transfer of said enthusiasm to the students as well. Once class was over, I bribed everyone with cookies so that we could return to the hostel quicker. It definitely got the group moving faster, especially Joey, who was practically yelling at everyone else to hurry up. One more nightly meeting later, and we were all off to bed, exhausted after another busy day.
As we pass the “halfway hump” (as Mr. Scott calls it), we all realized how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned. Sure we’ve missed home a lot (and I’m sure you all have been missing us just as much if not more), but the experiences that we’re so grateful to have here will no doubt stick with us for a lifetime. I’d like to thank you all on the group’s behalf for allowing your little birds to fly free and experience the world at such a young age. Your compassion and generosity has let us learn valuable new skills and has given us all a new perspective on the world around us. As a special kind of thanks, we’ve prepared a video for all of our faithful readers at home. We hope you enjoy it!
((Forgive the tardiness of this post, the internet has been down for the past couple days. The video will be uploaded shortly!!))
Edit: Here’s the link to the video! http://youtu.be/D5wznmeEhUY