The day started off with an early morning workout, 6:45 am. I was joined for a nice run and core exercises by Farima, Ryan and Cordelia. Next followed a 7:30 am wakeup call to the rest of the group and then off to breakfast. 9:30 am we started our politics seminar where we talked our question of the day: How do national and international politics affect the individual Nicaraguan? The first thing that surprised me about the conversation was how opinionated people were on the topic of government. Our discussion started off with a focus on the general politics and moved into more specific examples involving The United States government. I really enjoyed not only the actual conversation but the topic itself and how it opened the door for different opinions and a little more than a one sided discussion. Everyone seemed to be engaged by either nodding in agreement or shaking their head respectfully. Our seminar ended with us reading an article about Nicaraguan politics called “President Daniel Ortega Isn’t a Nice Guy, but Nicaraguans Will Re-elect Him Anyway.” Our share-out from this article really intrigued me because some people questioned the source of the articles while other expressed a sort of dislike for the seemingly biased tone it had. Personally, I love when people go against the grain or think outside the box because as a leader I don’t want to silence others or take over but instead make sure they have the confidence to express what they truly feel.
Next on our agenda was a letters of appreciation seminar where we wrote a first draft letter to generous donors who helped many of us get to Nicaragua by providing us with scholarships. Some things we included in our letters were general information, for example; our name, where we are from, our hobbies and then we moved into more in depth questions like what our favorite activities were and why, what on this trip has changed us and what are some things we want to take action on. Everyone was very good about at least thinking about the questions and later they will translate those into words.
12:00 hit and we were off to lunch to get some energy of the rest of the day. Two speakers came after lunch, one of them named Ricardo Lopez talked to us about Nicaraguan politics from the perspective of a veteran who fought in the revolution against the government. A few things that caught my attention was that abortion is illegal in Nicaragua even when it threatens the life of the mother and that a woman can only be president if she has been widowed for five years or more. That probably shocked me the most and stuck with for more than just politics day. I find politics very interesting and I certainly do not agree with everyone’s opinion but I love hearing it. Also when the speakers mentioned how President Daniel Ortega has committed some very serious and public crimes but they still supported him because he has but a few good programs into place to help out the people of Nicaragua I started thinking about The United States and how differently each country looks at their leader.
The day ended with some free time where some people went to buy materials for our upcoming Community Action Project and other continued to explore Leon and buy souvenirs. This was followed by our usual 2-hour English tutoring where my group continued on the theme for the day and asked our almost fluent English students their opinion on Nicaragua’s government. Tutoring at the end of the day has been one of the highlights of the trip so far because when we ask our students questions like this they come up with very truthful, thought out answers and again give me yet another perspective on the topic.
To reflect on the day is a little bit of a challenge because I tend to be critical of myself but hind sight is 20/20. I think this day was perfect for me because at home I always talk with my parents about politics but with them, I only think about the United States but this day has opened my eyes in a way I cannot really explain. I always knew about the news and conflicts occurring in other countries and I realized that they had more than just what I was reading online or watching on the news but now I fully understand the interest in one’s government. I feel like I see exactly what I know myself as but in people from other countries. To be a leader you do have to be respectful, assertive, approachable and other basic qualities but to physically lead someone in the right direction you have to adapt to situations and continue to change the way you view everything.