Dear Parents, Family, Friends, and Global Glimpse Staff,

As an educator, it’s generally good practice to start a lesson with some sort of hook or attention grabbing activity.  Something that is engaging but also foreshadows the day’s learning target as a way to work up to explicit instruction.  For example, one of my lessons starts with a symbol laid out in the center of the classroom floor.  I ask students to tell me what they see.  One half will undoubtedly agree that it’s a 9.  The other half will counter that it’s a 6.  Every now and then you’ll get an outlier who sees a letter of the Greek alphabet or even a whale.  And so we reach an impasse as I demand that we agree on what is on this paper.  Eventually, someone will conclude that the truth is a matter of perspective.  More importantly, it’s necessary to get up and walk to the other person’s vantage point so that your solid stance becomes a little more malleable.  This 10 minute activity serves as a reference point to redirect future unruly debates back to peaceful discussions.  There’s a lot about this activity that reminds me about our trip to Nicaragua.  The goal of both endeavors is to realize that there is “more than one reality.”  The myriad of events, experiences, emotions, and exchanges have fortified their awareness, which some would argue is the purest form of an education.

Many students started their days with cold showers.  A sort of daily baptism filled with gasps and shivers that reminded them that they were far from their comfort zone.  Wi-fi enabled electronics were replaced with live, intimate, and personal conversations with new friends that defied both the lights out rules of the hostel and their belief that meaningful connection is anchored to the number of likes on a post.  They squirmed with not knowing the language as they tried to haggle with a merchant.  Perhaps they’ll know what it’s like to be the kid in their English class back home who just moved to the States and struggles with the language.  They listened to survivors of the country’s civil unrest who used words as weapons or simply weapons to get their country back.  They’ll be old enough to vote in the next election and are certainly conscious of this privilege.  They shadowed households with no plumbing, electricity, or sense of privacy.  The same homes also had cohesiveness and persistence to get through the day that eclipsed their notions of well-being.  They inhaled the stench of accumulated trash from 500k residents at the local dump.  They felt the oppressive heat from combustible compost while adults scavenged alongside a venue of vultures for barter-worthy material to keep their children fed.  They saw those same children playing barefoot a few piles of trash away.  Naturally, this instilled pity and a weight of responsibility.  However, through discussion they agreed that there is nothing to pity about someone who works that hard.  And that a savior complex was somewhat inappropriate at best.  Instead, these moments recalibrated their materialistic gears.  It also motivated them to enlist as agents of change on a local, state, national, and global level.  Although they only labored for a 1/6th of a day on a farm, it was enough to leave them sleepy, sore, smelly, and with a slightly shattered ego as they realized that maybe their respective situations back in the states did not make them eligible to recite “the struggle is real.” They got some sense of what it means to toil over lessons, only to have some students be tardy, truant, or indifferent. They sometimes used public bathrooms where toilet paper and lighting were replaced with flies and a bucket of water to flush with.  Essentially, they saw the 9, the 6, the Greek letter, the whale, and a little bit more.

Teaching can sometimes feel like punching water because you never really make a dent.  From the conversations I had with students over the course of the trip, it’s clear that sometimes you need to step out of a textbook or a lesson plan to really leave a mark.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of their growth and resolutions, how humbled I am by what I saw, and how grateful I am that you supported them throughout this journey.  Thank you to everyone attached to the success of this trip.