Hi GG friends and family! My name is Natalie Blumberg, and I was the student leader for our very first Free day! I think my role today was very different from the past student leaders because our plans were not as structured as most other days. There were no seminars, guest speakers, or set field trips to coordinate. Even though we were free most of the day there were still some moments that I needed to step up and assert my role as the student leader.
Our wakeup call was 7:00 and we went to our usual food spot for yogurt and granola. Back at the hostel we exchanged more US dollars for Nicaraguan Córdobas so we could spend our money freely throughout the day. Our first stop out was the laundromat because the I think the only word to describe our clothes was “dank.” After doing activities in the humid Nicaraguan heat for a week straight we were all struggling to find clean clothes to wear. After we dropped off our clothes we split into two groups because we were not yet allowed to leave the hostel without one of the adult leaders. My group went straight to the supermarket while the other went to an internet cafe. I personally want to try the biggest variety of Nicaraguan snack foods as I can so I can bring them back home and share them with my friends and family. So far my favorites are Zambos plantain chips in the chile lime flavor, which is one of the only spicy foods here in Nicaragua. Another favorite among the whole group are Picos, which is a sweet triangular baked good that one of our i
n-country leaders, Noel, brought for us. After the supermarket we planned to switch locations with the other group, but sadly the electricity was down in the Cafe so we went to get smoothies instead. The usual lunch was soon to follow.
After lunch we had more free time but chose to focus it on English tutoring prep and our community action project presentation which we had later in the day. Every day we try to prep our lesson to teach our students so we aren’t stumbling at the front of the classroom wasting our time and theirs. After about 40 minutes of that we put together our presentation for our CAP. As a whole we are planning to renovate the whole outside area of the school we are working with, Niñas y Niños del Fortín. Some parts of the plan include refinishing their picnic tables, putting in new grass, and creating an edible garden.
Our last major agenda item was English tutoring. I have personally been studying Spanish since 6th grade and I just finished AP in the Spring. Because of my experience I am one of the teachers of the beginner Spanish class. In this class we talk to the students primarily in Spanish because they do not yet know much English. With all that being said, going into the beginning of this trip I was not confident in my Spanish skills whatsoever. I would try and get the native speakers to talk to the people taking my order and I would undersell my abilities. But after even a few days of tutoring I feel that both the students and the teachers have learned a lot from each other. I have become more confident in speaking my Spanish to native speakers without being self-conscious as I am forced to do it in front of my class everyday. I have noticed others around me feeling the same way as well. Even those who came into this trip knowing zero Spanish have been pointing out signs and saying phrases with ease. Teaching others really makes you learn more about yourself too, like your capabilities, strengths, weaknesses and much more you wouldn’t know without opening yourself up to a class of students who want to learn. As a side note I also learned why teachers are always so sweaty during class; I was constantly running around to help people out and acting out words which made me really hot and I had to stand by the window towards the end.
The final thing we did during the day that I thought was pretty funny was order pizza from Pizza Hut to the hostel. On our arrival day I remember going on the bus and seeing all these signs for Nicaraguan food, and places we didn’t have in the US and thinking to myself, “Why would you go to a foreign country just to eat food you can eat back home?” Well after eating at the same restaurant all three meals a day for practically a week straight, I can see why. We were all craving some greasy American food so we ordered 6 pizzas to share and ate them all at 9 o’clock at night. I have no regrets whatsoever.
As one final thought, being as we have been in León for an entire week now I can say this has been already one of the most impactful, craziest, busiest, and most fun weeks of my life and I can’t wait to see what else this trip has in store.