Today, we woke up at 5:00 AM to be able to experience the typical school day of a Nicaraguan student. Leaving breakfast, we joined the other students walking to school, fully dressed in our school uniforms―white dress shirts and navy blue pants or skirts. We arrived at Collegian San Ramon Wanda, splitting into two groups and shadowing the 10th and 11th graders. We participated in core subjects like mathematics, English, and physical education and observed the differences between schools in the U.S. and Nicaragua. The students at the school were welcoming and friendly, as they hugged and invited us to play games and swap social media accounts. Despite their happy and energetic attitudes, however, we observed that the classroom environment made learning very difficult for most students.
The lack of supplies, discipline, and respect toward teachers hurt students determined to learn, and allowed others to completely ignore the classroom activities. One large difference that surprised many of us was that the students had to pay for their tests, preventing many from taking them and potentially bringing down their grades. While the majority of the students were goofing off, there were many kids focused on learning, in order to have better opportunities later in life. After lunch, we changed out of our uniforms and traveled to another school in Estelí called Padre Fabretto, a small school that provided local kids with a quality education and meals to those who needed them. We talked to students who had studied English for merely 6 months about American culture, and were impressed at their level of fluency and ambition to learn English. Afterwards, the students told us about their favorite aspects of living in Nicaragua and we played a few games together. The goodbyes were bittersweet as we formed quick bonds with the local kids, and look forward to continue learning about the vibrant culture of Nicaragua.