“Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius
A reality challenge is a daylong activity designed to give students the opportunity to see, feel and experience daily life in the developing world. Today students worked in the local market for 4 hours selling the goods as if they were the vendors. After that, in groups students taught English classes to locals with different levels of English proficiency.
We woke up very early today for our first reality challenge, working like a local in the Mercado Santos Barcenas (la Estacion). We were all able to help the venders sell items such as cheese, rice, beans, and soap as well as learn about their lives. Some have even worked there for 30 years! The venders I was working with spoke almost no English, but it was inspiring to see how passionate and committed they were to their jobs. I feel so blessed to be born in the United States because of how basic necessities such as food, water, and even shelter are available to everyone. It was eye-opening to see how hard it was to attain these necessities in Nicaragua.
Later in the day, we had our first English tutoring classes. Though some of us had to deal with little students coming to class or the students being very shy and unconfident, all of us found methods in which to motivate the class and overall have a great time. There were some improvements that all groups had to make to adjust the lesson plan, but I know that all of us, students and teachers will grow together.
From these two experiences today, it was amazing to see that even though two individuals have two different cultures and speak different languages, there is that human connection involving love, friendship, and kindness that we as people on the Earth share.
I really enjoyed all of the lessons that students created today to teach English to Nicaraguan students of all ages. They got to see what being a teacher was like, and they either loved it or struggled with it. But, I know that they will continue to get better, because with each minute of the lesson they got better and better. They began to grow more confident in themselves as leaders, and they also began to identify areas of growth for themselves.
Though the English classes were awesome, the highlight of my day was the reality challenge. because today’s reality challenge was quite the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the students engage with not only the vendors, but also the customers. Some students used their knowledge of Spanish to communicate, but most knew very little Spanish, so they had to be more creative. They found so many different ways to communicate, using whiteboards and the few Spanish words they knew to make the communication happen, and once they figured out how they were going to thrive in that environment, they did really well.
At our nightly meeting, I was genuinely pleased with how they reflected upon the differences in lives of Americans and Nicaraguans. It was interesting to listen to students negotiate their own ideals with the norms and customs here. For, example, they talked about how people worked at the market their entire lives and they just couldn’t begin to fathom working for the same place for that long. The students were surprised at how happy people were with working the same career their entire lives, but they expressed that happiness as content, which shows their bias in the beliefs. I hope that throughout the trip, they continue to reflect on their own experiences and begin to really experience a truly different life. I know that they now there are differences between people and cultures, but they are only on the edge of really discovering and embracing these differences.
Everyday each student continues to grow as an individual and as a member of this delegation. We are a fantastic group, and we work really well together. We are learning and experiencing so much, and we are becoming more thoughtful global citizens everyday. We can’t wait to share with you everything we learn tomorrow!