What would the child I once was say of the young adult I have become?  It’s a question that really resonated with all of us glimpsers, especially on a day like today. We’re all thousands of miles away from home, with people that were complete strangers two weeks ago, having the time of our lives.

I know that as a kid, I would’ve never imagined that my first time going to the beach would be while on a life changing journey in Nicaragua. We arrived at Isla Juan Venado and learned about the area’s natural reserve, which focuses on protecting the wildlife in the area and also focuses on reforestation in order to preserve the trees that provide the wildlife with homes and offer the locals protection from storms After, we left for a private beach, Palo de Oro, on speedboats (they were more like safe and slow boats, but it was an adventure nonetheless). The beach was breathtakingly peaceful and aggressive at the same time. We were the only ones for miles, therefore we were able to really let the immensity of the ocean sink in and let the ferocity of the waves make any of our problems and worries seem miniscule in comparison. Once in the water, however, the waves would push and pull you with such determination that most of us fell on our butts more than once, but despite our aching bottoms, we were all so grateful that for once on this entire trip it wasn’t ridiculously and unbearably hot. Another completely new experience was having lunch somewhere other than at our our usual spot, Quiero Mas. We ate right in front of the beach with our feet in the sand and with the aroma of the beach and the fresh fish on our plates creating an unforgettable concoction. The owners of the restaurant were locals and were a part of efforts to help the people in the community earn a living off of the resources and opportunities provided to them by the area.

After some more time in the water, we boarded the boats and waved goodbye to Palo the Oro. We arrived at the public beach where we would be able to do some more swimming and we could watch the local fishermen work for the catch of the day. Although the water was tempting, some of us were exhausted and opted to relax while enjoying the view.

While I was relaxing I was thinking about my performance as a leader that day. The concerns I had earlier, staying on schedule and assuring the safety of my fellow glimpsers, faded away as I saw how much fun my friends were having. My thoughts were interrupted when a little girl asked me what my name was. She was selling intricately beautiful souvenirs that she made herself out of seashells she found on the beach. Her brother, who was also selling the same creations, joined us and they asked me some questions that really touched me.

The little girl, whose name I wished I remembered, asked me if I was ever going to come back. And I said no. It wasn’t until the bus ride back home that I realized I shouldn’t have said no. When I was a kid, I never imagined I would be sitting here today. And now, as a seventeen year old, I can’t predict what I will be doing ten years from now. The assumptions you make about yourself, your future, the people around you, and anything else hold you back and keep you away from reality.

The reality of growing up is learning to be accepting. We have to accept that change is necessary in order to grow. All of my friends on this trip had to accept the fact that we would have to leave the comforts and familiarity of home to be a part of this once in a lifetime opportunity. When we leave for college we’re going to have to accept the responsibilities that come with the newfound freedom. The people of Nicaragua had to accept that there would be struggles and obstacles during their journey to equality and justice. And during our time here we’ve had to accept and embrace a new culture, which in turn has opened our eyes to aspects of the world we could never even see in our dreams.

When we got home we had to rush to get to our English tutoring classes, which surprisingly have become one  of our favorite duties during the day. Our students are friendly and funny and engaging and really have a desire to learn, which motivates us to teach them all we can. Although at first it was difficult and tedious work because none of us are trained English teachers, we’ve learned to work with our students to do the best that we can with what we have.

After our classes, I couldn’t help but think about how close we had all gotten. Today hadn’t been a day off from our responsibilities as Glimpsers. It was a family trip to the beach. We’ve accepted and welcomed each other and the people of Nicaragua; because of it we’ve grown closer together and we have grown and will continue to grow as individuals.

image image image image image image imageimage