Celebrating Min’s birthday

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(M) Jessica and I woke up around 6:10am as the first duo ELLD (leaders of the day). Our first duty was to bring life to the hostel by knocking obnoxiously on our fellow glimpsers’ doors. What was actually brought to life was Cole’s death stare into Jessica’s soul. Jessica’s response was a sweet good morning and she walked happily along. Then, we called everyone down for breakfast. We were welcomed into the common room with the fresh smell of pancakes and fruits, as an alternative to our traditional home-cooked Nicaraguan meals. With a very tight schedule ahead, we quickly ate breakfast and prepared for the life chaging day ahead of us, where we were going to be challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally.

(J) With full bellies, we went down to Las Hormiguitas (for all the gringos out there, that means ants) and learned about what Teacher Isabel and everyone at the school provides for the community. Las Hormiguitas provides an education for local children from homes filled with violence, abuse, and drug addictions. They provide art classes and lessons such as lectures on homosexuality. We were introduced to the escuela movil (mobile school) and gave a huge thanks to Teacher Isabel for taking some time to talk to us and being a true hero to the community in Matagalpa.

We headed down to the dump (landfill) with Lisseth and several other helpers from Las Hormiguitas. What we saw was shocking, mind blowing, eye opening to say the least. When we got off the bus, our first impressions were of the invasion of flies, nauseating smell, and the sight of garbage – forgotten treasures, conveniences we don’t think twice about. Looking around we saw syringes, half-empty cosmetic containers, perfectly good clothing. The people at the dump work day-in and day-out filling recyclable bottles into colossal bags. If they’re lucky, they might make the equivalent of $3 in a day. While they worked, we played with and were inspired by the kids at the dump. Lisseth brought the escuela movil to the dump, as she does every Tuesday, with which one little boy, eyes bright, learned fractions. The kids played soccer and catch with balls and gloves they found at the dump. We joined in, kicking the ball around and having lots of fun with the kids. Even though the soccer ball was partially deflated, the kids didn’t care – they were having the time of their lives. One little boy I made friends with on the bus found a fashionable watch in the dump and brought it to me as a present. The amount of love and inspiration I felt from that boy in that moment was enlightening (although I didn’t actually bring the watch home with me). After a while, Lisseth and a few of us glimpsers handed out meals to the workers at the dump – another selfless act Lisseth does on a weekly basis. I want to take a moment to realize the heroism of people like Lisseth and Teacher Isabel who do so much to help those in need, asking for no thanks in return. We gave a huge thanks to Lisseth and headed back to our hostel, processing what we just experienced.

(M) Arriving back to the hostel, after a very quiet bus ride, we all showered and prepared for a group reflection about our experience at the dump. We went over the situation dealing with the amount of poverty in Nicaragua and the reality of these people’s lives. We also addressed poverty in the United States and how much we compare it to impoverished countries in Africa. This comparison really misguided others about poverty in other countries. Then the Glimpsers were asked to share a more personal note on the experience. As we went around the circle, many tears were shed from family stories. Many really understood how much our parents do for us and the common theme between each story was appreciating what we have and recognizing the sacrifices our parents make to provide the food on our tables, the clothes on our backs, and the roof over our heads. We all not only connected immensely from the group reflection but also realized the family bond we had between each other. We closed out with a big hug with the theme word being “love.”

(J) After crying for an hour, we ate pork with veggies topped with crunchy stuff that reminded me of crushed up ramen packets, a piece of bread, and pineapple juice (During lunch, the leadership coaches and I prepared a little surprise you’ll read about below). When we ate to our heart’s content, we headed over to the program seminar to learn about what awaits for tomorrow!

The program seminar gave us a sneak peak on what we will be experience tomorrow when we live like a local. We touched on what we expect to happen as well as some logistics of the plans, but to find out what goes down you’ll have to tune in (or type in?) tomorrow and read our blog on Living Like a Local Day!

Before heading out to our English tutoring class we scarfed down pork, rice, and cooked bananas. Some people – myself included – nervous about English class had small appetites. Harmon gladly cleaned up every last plate (thanks for helping us reduce our food waste, food buddy!).

English tutoring: Day 2. I have to say, yesterday felt like an absolute train wreck. I thought it was hard enough to communicate to locals knowing only the words, “No habla español,” but trying to teach a room full of students a brand new language when they don’t know a word of yours was a crazy, new learning experience. Day 2, I’m filled with joy to report, was so. much. better. Each tutoring group came up with structured lesson plans, engaged even the rowdiest of students, and got everyone on their feet practicing English. We even got some selfies with the students! The amount of improvement from Day 1 to Day 2 of English tutoring was astronomical and I can’t wait to see how the classes continue to progress.

(M) We came back from English class very joyful and satisfied, but once we got back to the hostel, Jessica and I were called to speak to the leadership coach about our performance as leaders. I was slightly terrified, thinking whether or not I had done something wrong but it was a quick talk. Then Janice called us saying that we really needed to start with our nightly meeting. So Jessica and I walked up to the meeting room and I noticed that the lights were off and there were a couple of giggles that went on as I walked toward the meeting. I walked closer, very confused, and as I turned the corner I saw all the Glimpsers with big smiles shouting, “Feliz Compleaños!” I was then hugged very aggressively by everyone but I was very happy. They started to sing happy birthday but not understanding the aggressiveness of the hugs, I bent down to blow out the candles, then I had my face smothered in the cake.

(J) With cake covering not only Minmyat’s face but the entire floor of the common room, we began our nightly meeting, recapping the day, sharing our appreciations and constructive feedback for one another. We passed the torch to Edgar to lead Living Like a Local Day tomorrow and we all got to see his beautiful speed-drawing of a waterfall. We went over our schedule for tomorrow and are excited for the challenges facing us – you’ll have to read tomorrow’s blog to find out!

If you thought the birthday fun was over, boy, were you wrong. Everyone went downstairs – Minmyat came last with his birthday hat over his head – to find a piñata waiting! Kenneth blindfolded Minmyat and he took his first swing, hitting me straight on the butt (thanks, buddy). Then, after swinging a couple more times, all the candy fell out. You should’ve seen the Glimpsers hunting for candy like it was gold.

When we finished cleaning up after the piñata, Edgar brought us down buckets and bowls to get ready for Living Like a Local Day. Stay tuned to find out what happens!

This is Minmyat and Jessica signing out!