Today was the last full day that we, all 19 of us, was here, in Jinotega. We have grown as people and as global citizens in more ways than we can imagine. From community service to physically demanding hikes, we are forever changed as we prepare to return home. Our day started at 6 AM. We woke up, ate at our favorite Buffet La Familiar, and then embarked on an 899 staircase hike up to Pena de La Cruz, which is a location above a mountain that outlooks the beautiful city of Jinotega. To some of us, the hike was extraneous and exhausting. To others, it was a fun experience. At some points, our group had to split because some weren’t feeling well and had to take a slower pace. At the top of Pena de La Cruz, it was a bit windy. We all took pictures of one another and enjoyed the view and satisfaction of our successful hike up. All in all, we proved to ourselves that our bodies are much stronger than we choose to believe.

For lunch, at the Buffet La Familiar, we had perfectly cooked chicken breasts, white rice, plantain chips and as usual, juice. Then we went to Hogar de Ancianos for the final time to present our project to Nuvia. After pictures and smiles, we went our separate ways for free time. For dinner, we had a special surprise. We watched a slideshow of pictures of us throughout our trip and then danced. We then walked a couple of blocks to have a dinner at a new restaurant.

As the day comes to an end and we all feel the gravity of the final reflection, I cannot help but feel a range of mixed emotions. In a way, I’m excited to go home. Yet, I’m saddened by the fact that I must leave these once strangers, whom are now lifelong friends. I’m so proud that we all hiked up such a daunting mountain. Being El Linder Del Dia was stressful but also very fulfilling. As a young adult, I’m glad that I got the chance to be a delegated leader. Being a leader means that you must trust yourself. Don’t doubt who you are or second guess your choices. Be confident and whatever you feel will emanate from you.

It’s hard to think that a person can change in less than 3 weeks. Maybe because we are taught to think that change occurs in subtle, small ways. And maybe it does. But for all of us, we can all say that we’ve healed, grown, and loved a little more, cried a little more and smiled a little more. The people here have something that I believe Americans can lack: resilience. No matter what they endure, from poverty to starvation, they smile no matter what. And we can learn from the people here—to be grateful for what we have and smile despite your circumstances. After all, your circumstances never determine your future. Only you do. And as we return back to our lives in the US, which remain unchanged, locked in time, we must realize that we must make a choice. We either take the lessons we learned here in Nicaragua and make a change in our own lives or we return to our old habits and patterns. The choice is always ours.