Good evening from Matagalpa!
It’s been a wonderful first full day in Nicaragua and I think we’ve all experienced a bit of sensory overload today – so many new sights, sounds, and lots of new information! We got some brain fuel from our first breakfast – pancakes with banana, pineapple and cantaloupe – as well as the first of many typical natural juices (so far we have tried naranjilla, mango y te de jamaica or hibiscus tea). Then we dove into our first academic seminar, which fit with today’s theme: history. After spending some time getting to know each other, the Glimpsers were challenged to piece together a timeline of Nicaragua’s political history concerning the revolution. They worked together and had a great discussion about the importance of knowing our history, complemented by some important historical tidbits from our only native Nicaraguan, Denis. The students learned about the Somoza dictatorship, the Sandinistas, and the CIA-influenced Contras – information they would be able to apply later in the afternoon during our city tour. Personally, I was very impressed with this group’s willingness to learn and practice Spanish and we even had a bit of the lesson in Spanish!
After a quick break, energizer, and sugar boost, we jumped head first into a seminar regarding some important cultural and safety tips to keep in mind while we are here in Nicaragua. We all signed some group agreements on how we can make the most out of this experience together, such as “open-minded, respect, flexibility, and trying new things.” The students had some fun by creating skits to explain some cultural differences, after reflecting on the quote: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” by Henry Miller.
Next up: money exchange! We welcomed a local money changer, called a “coyote,” to the hostel and the students got their first glimpse of the Nicaraguan currency, Córdobas. The exchange rate is about 27 córdobas to the dollar – let’s see how they do with the math! After a delicious lunch of breaded chicken and plantain chips with rice and salad, we relaxed for a bit and prepared for our first outing of the trip: the city tour!
We’ve been graced with beautiful, sunny weather all day here in Matagalpa, but we were able to enjoy a cool breeze as we set out on the town. Split up into two groups, we got to know our new city and some important places, including where to do laundry, hang out or call home on the students’ free days. We visited a small market where students were challenged to buy a fruit previously foreign to them – my group was gifted with a starfruit because at 20 pesos for a dozen, the kind man allowed us to take just one. Just one example of the general kindness of Nicaraguan people! Walking around for the next few hours, we saw the pristine white Cathedral San Pedro, the parks that mark each end of the city center, and several historical landmarks where the Glimpsers applied their newfound knowledge. As the growing global citizens they are, they were very observant and took note of the historical reminders that are sprinkled throughout the city, such as statues of Sandino’s somber shadow. After exercising our bodies and brains, we were treated by our wonderful PCs (Denis and myself) to the best ice cream in the land at Besame.
The packed day wasn’t over and after we found our way back to our home, El Castillo, we rested for a bit before gathering once again for a very important seminar: English tutoring! The emotions shared by the kids ranged from nervous about teaching to excited about the opportunity to share their knowledge and contribute to the Matagalpan community. They learned about the Global Glimpse model for lesson planning, and broke into groups to start preparing for the groups they will be teaching, which are comprised of children, teenagers and adults whose levels vary from beginner to advanced. They weren’t fully prepared until they had a comical role-play with Denis, forcing Isabel to step beyond her comfort zone and practice teaching a challenging Nicaraguan student.
After dinner, some students went on a short field trip to the local basketball game to get a taste of the culture we will be delving into tomorrow. They returned with a renewed energy, and we had our first official nightly meeting where we reviewed the day and prepared for tomorrow after inducting tomorrow’s ELDD (El Lider del Dia), the amazing GG Leader Vania! After tomorrow, the students will step up to the leadership role, so be looking out for their time to shine!
A heads up: we will occasionally be able to share comments with them, so if any family members would like to drop a quick note in the comments section, feel free to do so. We know you are all anxious to hear about what we are up to, but rest assured that everyone is having a great time, and the group is bonding quickly. I know my own mother reads our blogs as religiously as the Glimpsers’ parents, so I’d like to take this opportunity to give her a personal shout out 🙂 love you Mom!
So, that’s it for our first full day – and it sure was full of history, learning about ourselves, each other and our new home for the next few weeks. Our bodies may be tired, but our minds are drumming and the energy buzzing with excitement for all the new experiences to come. Buenas noches!