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Students reflect on Nicaragua
Junior Christina Giani:
“The flood of overwhelming feelings was rushing through me during that plane ride, all the way from start to finish. After a long day of traveling, our delegation arrived in Nicaragua, to be welcomed with open arms by our host families. Without hesitation, they hugged and kissed me right away. It doesn’t take long to learn that they are very passionate and full of love.”
Junior Veronica Sismondo:
“As I walked up to her home, I had to fight to hold back the tears that I could feel welling up in my eyes. Her home was nothing more than cardboard, plastic, and rusted tin nailed together. Her mother took me around to the back of her home and showed me where the plastic had worn away and how when it rained, the house filled with water. And then she looked at me and said “every day I pray to God that one day he will help my family and I. I am still waiting but I never give up hope.” I was literally speechless. All I could mutter to her was that I would keep her in my prayers and that hopefully one day soon God would help her.”
Senior Allie Marsh:
“After closely examining me, she pointed at my skin and said “¡Bonita!”(Beautiful). I wasn’t quite sure what to say. “Gracias” just didn’t seem to fit. So, I told her “¡tú eres bonita!” (You are beautiful). Her nose wrinkled in disgust. “¡Soy fea!” she sighed. (I am ugly). I asked her what she was talking about. She elaborated, “Mi piel es fea.” (My skin is ugly). Upon hearing her say this, the color in my cheeks immediately drained from my face, despite the heat. “Why do you think that?” I asked. “¡Tú eres bonita afuera y dentro!” (You are beautiful inside and out) I told her. “I don’t look like Hannah Montanah. I’m different.” A lump formed in my throat. Here is a child with a beautiful heart, face, soul and mind, who thinks she is ugly. A child that is wearing the same worn out shoes as the last year I visited, whose family struggles to pay for the groceries each month. As if she doesn’t have enough worries, she now desperately searches for someone to relate to on TV besides her fellow Nicaraguans on the news.”
Senior Annie Mangano:
“My way of being in this world has changed. My whole world has been turned upside down and it wouldn’t stop until everything was shaken out of me. I tried to understand the world more deeply, to make sense of it all. It was my third time in Nicaragua and each time I’m left more speechless than the time before. How could a country a six hour plane ride away be entirely different, different in every sense of the word, than the world we know and understand here in the United States? I’ve struggled for the better part of a week trying to piece together my thoughts.”
Sophomore Sara Kelleher:
“Today was a huge release of all my emotions. I’ve been really consumed with how much fun I am having and haven’t really started thinking about the reality of their situation until today. If they get sick, they don’t have the same opportunities as we do to get better. Their water is purely from the ground, they have dirt floors and they have so many hopes and dreams that they may never get to accomplish because of their situation. I want to give them all that I have. I have so much love for these kids and my family. They gave me their hearts and their kindness and friendship and I will never forget that.
Senior Tom Fritz:
“I just want them to have the opportunities that all children should have. Its really sad that at this point in their lives, I don’t know what they have seen and what they have not. They may never see an area outside of Leon. They may never try different types of food. They may never escape and make their lives better. We can come down, and help as much as we want, but its hard to tell if the kids we are helping will ever actually escape. I would be interested to see where the kids that were at the first school 5 years ago are at now. Have they moved on, are they doing good with their lives, are they even still alive? I think that is why I am having so much trouble. I am leaving, but they are not. Why am I so much better simply because I was born in the USA?”
Senior Truong Nguyen:
“Whoever coined the phrase “ignorance is bliss” in this writer’s opinion never truly lived. It was the generosity of the Nicaraguan people that impacted me the most. For ten days we were given everything by a people that had nothing. Well I suppose that it would be foolish and arrogant of me to say that they had nothing, because in actuality what they offered and gave to each one of us was an experience that even MasterCard could not put a price on; an experience that we will each carry with us and apply to the rest of our lives. Arriving as a blissfully ignorant American with spring break aspirations of building schools and changing lives, I left Nicaragua with a keen vision, a changed life, an extended family and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Senior Jen Ellsworth:
“I talked a lot with Pedro, a 17 year-old student at the high school, and it looks like we might be able to sponsor him to take classes at Alianza Americana to learn English.
It is so difficult for people, like Pedro, who have very complicated and difficult lives, to pick themselves up when there is nothing to hold onto for support. With Pedro, even if we get him money to take the classes at Alianza, he needs to get in contact with Oscar from Alianza. It seems easy enough, but Pedro doesn’t have a street address or an e-mail address of his own. He also needs to get to and from Leon for class, which is over 9 km away. He could ride his bike, but it is broken and it would be dark. He could ride the bus, but it costs 8 cordoba each way, which he cannot afford. And even if he could get to and from class, he may not even have a light in his house to do work at night.”
Sophomore Megan Roche:
“Pedro, after hearing this news, wanted to show us his house and tell his family about the gift we had given him. So, a few members of the delegation and I made the two mile or so trek into the Nicaraguan countryside to Pedro’s house, where we told his family the good news. They were so grateful, and tears came to our eyes when they thanked us for giving Pedro something that they could not afford to give him.”