Greetings to family, friends, and everyone who is reading this post! I am honored to be the first student to post on the blog. Moreover, I am blessed to have this experience in Esteli to absorb their culture and learn exponentially about Esteli in general. Through today’s theme (politics), we learned about the effects of Nicaragua’s history on their present-day politics and how the politics affect the people.
On the second day in Esteli, we learned about the history of Nicaragua, and today’s theme of politics connected the history to the modern Nicaragua. Probably what most surprised us today was the corruption in the government. We had a mock-election between the two political parties: the Sandinista, which have the majority in the legislature and significant power in the executive branch as well as all the other aspects of the government, and the Liberals, which consist on a minority in the Nicaraguan government. Both parties participated in choosing their presidential candidate, creating the party platform, and making campaign posters. Both presidential candidates (Heather from the Sandinista, Jose from the Liberals) presented a one-minute speech about why the Nicaraguans should vote for them; they also partook in a debate about current events and issues in Nicaragua. Through the debate and speeches, both candidates gave their best effort to convince voters (the leaders and my fellow peers) to vote for them. In the end, Heather, the Sandinista candidate, won the election, which was by secret ballot, with a landslide of 20 to 12.
Bear with me here as I explain. In our Global Glimpse Esteli trip, there are a total of 22 Glimpsers and 4 leaders, which makes a total of 26 voters. However, the election result garnered a total of 32 votes, six more than the actual number of people…Hmmm…I smell corruption here!
The purpose of this activity was to demonstrate the corruption in the Nicaraguan government. The votes were rigged to ensure that Heather from the Sandinista would win. The activity demonstrates the corruption in the government which not only exists on the electoral level, but also in all areas of the government. As a result, the amount of corruption shocked us when they realized that the votes were faked. We thought that democracy and fair elections would produce the results based on the people’s votes; however, the corruption only keeps certain people in power, that is the people in the majority party’s favor. We experienced first hand with the corruption in elections, but we did not get a chance to experience the corruption from the actions of the elected president. Our Program Coordinators Denis and Mel explained to us about the economic, education, health care, and women’s rights situation in Nicaragua; underlying their speech about those topics hinted corruption because there were many unanswered questions about HOW the government performed their job.
This entire experience including the elections and discussion about Nicaraguan government proved to be the highlight of the day. We utilized out critical thinking skills to analyze what is going on in Nicaragua at the moment. By opening our minds, we opened our eyes to the political corruption in Nicaragua. Thus, this was surely the most interesting and intriguing activity of the day.
Thank you for indulging with me as I explained the exciting event of the day. All in all, the activity certainly taught me a little more about myself as a leader. As the first El Lider Dek Dia (LDD – also known as Student Leader of the Day), I truly enjoyed the experience of being the first student leader. I dived into the day with an itinerary, a plan and a little bit of uncertainty, but I ended the day knowing that I accomplished much. However, my accomplishment was not saying: Yes! I completed the most challenging day and now I’m done with it forever! My accomplishment was how I got to the end, not by corruption or bribery, but by improving my skills and learning a new lesson about myself.
I developed my leadership skills through practicing how to be responsible for the other groups members and being a good example. I was constantly reminded to do a head count throughout the day to make sure everyone was present. During the LDD evaluation time, I learned to be careful with my words and actions because others will notice these things and add them to their impression of me. As a result, I want to challenge myself to be more responsible to my peers and to be a great example for the people I am leading. Overall, the experience of being LDD has been amazing because I was able to learn a lot about how I can improve as a leader.
I hope that the politics activities can inspire you to think about how our US government works: is all about accomplishing goals or is it about how to accomplish it. I hope that my personal take-back from today’s adventures can inspire other people to grow in their skills, talents, and abilities. A goal is not about accomplishing your aspiration but about what you did to get there.