Greetings and salutations, Miles Gong, “El Lider Del Dia” (leader of the day), writing from Matagalpa, Nicaragua to you the curious reader. It is currently Day 10 of my teams’ outrageous adventure in Nicaragua and through sweat, tears, and food poisoning; I can say we are having the times of our young lives.
The day started with waking up with the roosters at 4:00am and me pounding on the doors of my fellow “Good Neighbors” singing One Direction and Disney tunes. The reason for such an early wake-up time because we traveled to “Finca La Canavalia” or Farm La Canavalia located in the misty mountains of Matagalpa. The group was pleasantly greeted with fresh pots of hot coffee to accompany our PB&J sandwiches before we had the privilege to listen one of La Canavalia’s leading figures, Luis Rosales. Don Luis, who happened to be a veterinarian, a farmer, and an environmentalist, explained with great passion what the Canavalia is about. It is much more than just a farm; it is a community that is dedicated to changing the mindset of the next generation using an environmentally sound approach to agriculture. Unlike other farms, Canavalia operated with a purpose to change the world for the better, which I sincerely admired.
After Luis’ speech, it was time for some backbreaking labor, quite literally. From creating fertilizer, to planting cacao, to hauling bags of dirt, the local farmers did more than their jobs at putting us Good Neighbors to work. I have to admit, duty of creating agriculture beds was perhaps the most tedious tasks I have ever done in my entire life, but through the sweat and grit, after the whole trial of being a farmer was complete, the only words I heard out of my peers’ mouths were praises of enthusiasm and glee. The dirty hand and soiled jeans were taken as a badge of honor and speaking for the group, the farmer experience helped us become one step closer to being global citizens.
And finally, once we returned to the similar feelings of the hostel, it was the time we were all waiting for, the moment we were longing to see. It was the first day we were allowed to explore the outside world of Nicaragua without any kind of adult supervision. At first, we didn’t know what to make of it. Difficulties formed around who went out with whom and what group went where. Eventually, most complications smoothed themselves out and each group that went on an excursion, from what I heard, thoroughly enjoyed wandering the streets of Matagalpa and what it had to offer. Surprisingly, the popular Robert Goldstein was still requested to be one group’s chaperone… voluntarily.
Day three of teaching English at a San Pablo II, and through the nightly meeting and informal conversation I was able to convey that this somewhat uncomfortable crucible had a rose to compensate for the thorns. Personally, I felt a little sympathetic for the students in my classroom, tolerating the slightly jumbled and unclear lesson my group had for them. But after class, my whole perspective of teaching English and of my student was turned upside down. To my surprise, there were still many individuals circled around the teacher’s desk once class was dismissed. The kids I originally thought were unmotivated and bored actually were more interested in interacting with us Americans than learning English. Shoot, they even wanted my group to play basketball on a later day. The conversations with those students made me sure that today was my greatest day in Matagalpa, even though I could not understand half of what they said.
As a conclusion, my day being leader was full of surprises. From hauling dead leaves back and forth to discovering what kind of beautiful individuals my students are created the best day I have had on this adventure. Now, sadly, I have to say goodbye because Robert is getting mad at me for taking too much time. Peace from Nicaragua.