Saludos a todos!

Today was another exciting and eventful day in Matagalpa as we continued to work on our community action project at Los Pipitos. After a delicious breakfast of gallo pinto, huevos, auacate, and queso, we participated in a quick energizer to lift our spirits and energy for the work to come. Although seemingly silly, the game emphasized the importance of clear communication, collaboration, and understanding the perspective of others. It was a fitting game to play before diving into the second portion of our community action project.

After the energizer, we boarded the bus and headed to Los Pipitos. Arriving at the center and looking at all the rooms for the first time since we began our work was an incredible feeling. Although incomplete, the newly painted walls gave the rooms a new and welcoming face. Without any specific instructions, every glimpser took initiative and immediately began to work on various tasks around the center. In the physical therapy room, a team of dedicated glimpsers completed plastering the stucco walls, giving the once hazardous walls a smooth surface. In the same room, another group began decorating the painted walls. Letters, numbers, shapes, and animals adorned the room. The bookshelf was sanded down and painted a beautiful shade of lilac.

In the adjacent room, the office, the stucco walls were painted over with baby blue paint, bringing more light into the room. All of us took turns leaving our handprints on the walls, both literally and figuratively leaving our mark here in Matagalpa.
Finally, in the craft room, a small group of talented artists completed a mural displaying people scattered around the circumference of the globe. Draped above the globe were the words, “Pintamos el Mundo,” or “Paint the World” in English. We hope that the message of the mural will inspire the children at Los Pipitos to express their creativity and recognize their place in the world.

At approximately 3:30 in the afternoon, we cleaned up and began heading back to the hostel. For the rest of the afternoon, we had free time. While some of us showered and freshened up, others went into town to do laundry or grab a quick cup of coffee. Dinner was early today, and for good reason. At five twenty, the majority of us walked to the local basketball stadium to watch the game between Matagalpa’s Toros del Norte and Managua’s local basketball team. When we first arrived at the stadium, only a small portion of the seats were occupied. However, within the next thirty minutes, crowds of excited fans poured into the stadium. We even saw students from English tutoring, locals we had come across, and other familiar faces. It seemed as though all of Matagalpa was there to cheer on their city team. We watched in anticipation as the players warmed up on the court and prepared for the game. At 6:15, when the buzzer rang loud and clear throughout the stadium, the players took their positions on the court. The game had finally begun.

Throughout the two hours, all of us were engrossed in the game. Even those of us who normally do not follow sports or basketball could not resist the urge to cheer, yell, and applaud every time the Toros scored a point. Vendors with baskets of plantain chips paced up and down the bleachers, beckoning fans to purchase a snack. We were not afraid to show our appreciation for the players. Ignoring constant stares from local fans, we obnoxiously rooted for each of the Toros, even giving them nicknames to mirror NBA players we knew. Our cheering seemed to especially take effect in the last quarter of the game. Dwayne James, the cousin of Lebron James, was the most frequent recipient of our impassioned cheers and applause. In the final minute of the game, when the Toros were down by two points, James gave us a thumbs-up and successfully made a shot, making the audience go wild. Despite their efforts, the Toros lost the game by one point after the opposing team made a two-pointer in the final twenty seconds of the game. It was an extremely intense game down to the last second. The final score: 85 to 83. Although the team we were rooting for lost, we were all in good spirits. We ran down the bleachers and onto the court, eagerly approaching players from both teams to take photographs. We did not care who they were or what uniform they wore; we were just determined to meet each one of the talented athletes. After taking a group photograph with Dwayne James and Gmitri Rice, the son of NBA legend Glen Rice, we walked back to the hostel in the peaceful darkness of the city.

We concluded our day with the daily nightly meeting. Many of the roses that were shared involved the progress of our community action project and the basketball game. We gladly passed the leadership torch to the next day’s leaders.
The experience of being Leader of the Day not only taught us how to be effective leaders, but also showed us that clear communication and organized planning goes a long way. We feel so fortunate to work with a group of such compassionate, motivated, and lively glimpsers. We look forward to the next day and final week of our stay in Matagalpa.

To our friends and family, we love and miss you all.

-Cynthia Kuo and Tanya Olivares

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