Hello everyone! My name is Mary Nieh from San Francisco and I go to Lowell High School. I currently have about 70+ bug bites, but that won´t stop me from having an amazing time here in Leon, Nicaragua! This is my first time truly being in a different country and I cannot stress enough how wonderful this whole entire trip has been for me and I´m sure for everyone else too. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, but here I am after a long hard day, writing a post as Leader of the Day.

Today´s theme was Living on $1/Day. Meaning we would only have $1 to spend for the day and of course that was used to pay for our three meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. What made today especially special was that we had to presume our day without electricity and running water because those two luxuries obviously are not covered in today´s budget. The whole reason of challenging ourselves today was because we often get caught up in the craziness of our lives and forget about the rest of the world. Today was all about experiencing how the majority of the world lives and to realize just how fortunate we really are.

Our day started off with a 6:45am wake up call, followed by breakfast at 7:30am at the usual restaurant, Quiero Mas. We had gallopinto, a typical dish consisting of just rice and beans, and right after we were off to Los Barzones, a rural community outside of Leon that mainly subsisted off of their own crops. After an hour drive, we were split into 4 groups and headed off to different families in the community. We spent the morning and afternoon helping the different families with their daily activities like clearing a field of weeds, moving termite-infested firewood to a more accessible location, and raking dead brush with home made rakes all while under the unbearable heat. Then after just a glimpse of how hard these families work, we shared a to-go lunch from Quiero Mas which was, surprise surprise, gallopinto again! We got to talk and learn more about the families’ daily lives and activities, as well as their life stories. Next we headed back to our hostel where we had some free time to cool off and clean up from today´s hard work; everyone definitely took advantage of the hour-long bus ride and was knocked out in seconds! After some free time, we got back to planning our Community Action Plan for Los Ositos, a local preschool. We brainstormed and narrowed down our possibilities of what exactly we wanted to do to help the preschool and we made some really good progress despite being tired from today´s previous activity. Then we ate gallopinto once again at Quiero Mas as we were still continuing the $1/day. Today was actually one of the Glimpser´s birthday (Happy birthday, Lauren!) so we all pitched in and got her a delicious cake! After everyone had finished their slice, we resumed with our schedule and continued with our nightly meeting.

As Leader of the Day I lead the nightly meeting, one of the many responsibilities as the leader, and facilitated the discussion of today´s events. I did a quick recap of today´s agenda and our question of the day was: If I live on $1/day and what to change my situation, how can I do that? We all had varying viewpoints and it was a nice reminder of just how diverse our group is. Next we gave each other feedback on how we behaved as a group and also how I did as Leader of the Day. Today´s nightly meeting made me realize the strong community we´ve built over a short 10 days of knowing each other, and it never ceases to amaze me how supportive, encouraging, and caring these individuals are. And after our nightly meeting we split up into our Self Reflection groups and discussed some questions based off of today´s experiences.

Going in today I tried to prepare myself, knowing it was going to be tough, but of course today was much more than expected. I was with the family working on the fields, and literally every few minutes I would have to take a breather and wipe the sweat off my forehead. The sun was scorching hot and by the time we were finished working, everyone had blisters. But although the work was hard, what kept us motivated through out the day was the fact that the community leader, a single man, would have had to clear the same large field by himself. After hearing that, you should have seen us all go! I´m super proud of everyone for really pulling through a hard day under such hot conditions and also for motivating each other to accomplish more so that the families would have less to do. Next was lunch and we were able to see the conditions the family lived on a daily basis and despite all that we saw, everyone seemed to be genuinely happy. What surprised me the most was that these families were so content living in their conditions and that really opened my eyes to how much your mindset on life can affect the way you live. I was happy that they were enjoying themselves, but at the same time I wished they could have had, had a better life. The families in the Los Barzones community were all so welcoming and willing to share their stories and they´re all just such earnest hardworking people that I wish I could do more for them then just helping out at the field. The fact that we would still be able to go back to our normal lives with electricity and running water, and that what we experienced today was their living reality saddens me but at the same time motivates me to work even harder with my endeavors and has humbled me to really be grateful of what we have.

On the topic of being grateful of what we have, no electricity and no running water was definitely a challenge of today. Instead of regular showers, we had to have bucket showers and fill up a large tub of water and use a smaller bowl to scoop and pour onto ourselves. In addition to that, we were unable to turn on any lights and at one point of the night I found myself sitting on the toilet in the complete dark (we were allowed to use the plumbing though, thankfully!). Our tiny flashlights got us through our nightly meeting and the cutting of the birthday cake, but even without electricity and running water, we were still very privileged. I kept catching myself being tempted to turn on the water to wash my hands or wanting to turn on the lights to go grab something from my room really quick and it was so foreign to me, and probably everyone else, to go throughout the day without what we see as basic necessities of life.

Being Leader of the Day was definitely a great experience for me! I´m usually a very passive and easy-going person so taking charge of today was a good learning experience. I was laying in bed the night before my big day and thoughts and worries were running through my head nonstop: what if no one listens to me, what if I do a bad job, what if things don´t go as planned, and the list goes on. But once the day began, I jumped right in and really stepped up to the plate. One thing about being Leader of the Day was that I found myself constantly thinking: how can I make my group´s experience better? I really put everyone else´s safety and well-being before my own to ensure an amazing and impactful experience for them. And after the nightly meeting and self reflection time, the support and encouragement of the group really ended the day perfectly for me. I felt satisfaction knowing my fellow Glimpsers had,  had a good day and that I was the one working behind the scenes to make sure everything fell into place. Of course there was a little chaos here and there, as nothing ever truly goes as planned, but I surprised myself even and came up with solutions to unexpected problems.

In conclusion, we had a great and eye-opening experience and it was really amazing being Leader of the Day. And lastly, I´d just like to thank all the Glimpsers and GG Leaders for getting me through the day and really being my inspiration to be a better person. I´ll forever remember the events and thoughts that took place today and I´m excited for the rest to come!

Until next time!