Work is something that most of the Glimpsers within our group would find quite familiar, whether that be working as a tutor at Kumon or a front desk manager at an Animal Care and Control Clinic. However, none of these experiences would have prepared us for today’s challenge, “Working Like a Local”. It has not only pushed us physically through tasks such as carrying heavy water jugs across La Estación, but also mentally through overcoming the language barrier that prevented some of us from communicating effectively with customers and our respective host vendors. Each of us were stationed at different stands within the market selling various items ranging from chia seeds to deodorants, but the one common aspect we all shared was that we shadowed under the welcoming arms of compassionate vendors. All of us were fortunate enough to spend five hours with our vendors and even share lunch with them. Our endurance for this five hours of hard work was fueled by the heat of a competition held by our Program Coordinators to determine who would be the “Seller del Día.” To stand out from the other competitors, some of us used our own unique assets to form creative ways in which we could attract more customers such as singing and advertising using our native language. In the end, we were all winners and were awarded with lollipops and heart charms, topped off with a bombardment of confetti. Overall, each of us gained an invaluable glimpse into how life is like for the locals of Leon.
I was paired with Alana and had the pleasure of aiding Miriam the entire time I was in the market. While Alana was stationed inside the shop helping clean and sell the goods, Miriam assigned me to advertise while sitting just outside of her shop. This was a great experience because I got to see the way locals work and try it for myself. I advertised using different languages to entice the customers because it is a rarity to find any sort of Asian person in Nicaragua. Many people were interested in the language I was speaking and this brought some customers over to the store but there were not many people who bought anything. The most uplifting portion of this day was the interview with my vendor because it made me realize how much many people had to sacrifice in order to work in the market and support their families. The woman I worked with had been working in the market for more than 25 years and supported five children by doing so. Even though she had struggled so much, she showed me so much love and even went to call me her fourteenth grandchild. Overall, the experience working as a vendor and the love I received made me have a greater appreciation for the local people of Leon.
Working as co-El Lider del Dia with Kevin was an overall success and through our leadership experience we were able to grow.
This day definitely must be one of the most impactful days of this trip. I really love Nicaragua. I love the food. I love the lively atmosphere and I love the colorful streets. But above all else, I love the Nicaraguan people and I believe my experience today has strengthened this view of mine. As co-El Lider del Dia, Lewis and I had to take a taxi, which was a first experience for us, to the central market and carry the heavy water jugs, packed lunches, and melon juice across the many busy vendors to the main supervisor’s office that was upstairs. We met up with the rest of the group and we were then split up into the respective stores that we were going to assist for the rest of the day. I was paired up with Tomi to help Rafael out at his stand. Sadly, we were separated. This scared me because she was the one who had at least some knowledge of Spanish and was supposed to act as the person to bridge between our two separate languages. Although I was not able to communicate with them that effectively and I was not able to ask them some of the interview questions, I was still able to help them out. Rafael and his assistants had me very busy for the whole 5 hours. My arms were either filled with chips and candy to hand to the customers or boxes to store away in the back. I even had a chance to balance a huge bag filled with at least 400 bags of chips on my head. Besides that, I was able to sell a wide variety of items to the customers while growing close to the local people of Leon. I learned how to communicate without the use of a common language, sweated away as I restocked the shelves with Rafael’s wide assortment of snacks, and grew even closer to a culture that differs greatly from my own. Through this experience working as a vendor and as a Co El Lider Del Dia with my “hombre” Lewis, I was able to absorb the essence of compassion and hard work that almost everyone in Nicaragua evoke!