A couple weeks ago I got back from an amazing volunteer trip to Nicaragua!
I was able to be apart of an awesome non profit called Global Potential which focuses in empowering youth in community development and sharing experiences with youth members from across the globe. . It’s an awesome organization go check out this video. Nicaragua Global Potential 2014: http://youtu.be/lzuo9B4m0Gs
The idea was to bring a youth member from my community to the youth conference but unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone in my town that had a passport so I had to make the “viaje”alone. I am sure this will scare my family but I have actually grown to enjoy my travels alone. Cooped up in “chicken busses” alone with only my thoughts and the occasional exchange between locals. I had no problems on my trip deep into rural Nicaragua but I will not say it wasnt a very interesting, long adventure!
After 10 hours of traveling on a hot crowded bus, and the lady in front of me urinating herself, I had to remind myself to let the breeze take my hair and to enjoy the untraveled roads in front of me. I finally got to El Hatillo, a rural village in Nicaragua and was welcomed by the nicest people and some eager young students from the global potential program who are uniquely from the US, Dominican republic, & Haiti.
Nicaragua and Costa Rica have an interesting relationship. You could similarly compare it to the relationship between California and Mexico. Financially and governmentally, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are very different, so in turn, there are problems with immigration and very harsh racism with Costa Rica being considered the more stable country.
El Hatillo is a small town but vibrant with energy from the youth. Lacking a water, sewage, and trash system, i was immediately greeted with a glimpse into the foundation of the town’s needs; which seemed to be spearheaded by the youth.
Despite everything I had heard or been warned about Nicaragua and Nicaraguans, I only experienced pure and simple interactions with the most honest intentions to better the quality of life. I stayed with a family who so gently opened their doors and their hearts to me and was able to laugh and dance with the 3 young girls of the house until the clock struck 10 and we rushed home in the muddy streets and collapsed into our beds laughing and gossiping about the boys they thought were cute.
It felt no different than when I was 15 and it reminded me how we are all one of the same. We share the same hopes, desires, dreams…it just so happens these kids were not given the same opportunities as us. Leaving the community was hard for me because for some reason I felt like I was letting them down by walking away.
The awesome thing about the conference was I was able to see all of the youth of the surrounding communities come together and work on brainstorming ideas of projects to better their communities. Mind you, these are young teenagers, basically adopting the roles of city planners in rural development. These kids were very smart and I am so thankful to have had their amazing light, even just for a few days. I will definitely be going back.
I remember when I was in limbo waiting to get my invitation for peace corps, the placement officer called me and told me he thought I may be too compassionate to be a peace corps volunteer and it completely boggled my mind. How could my compassion possibly interfere with my desire to serve and volunteer?! But sometimes I understand. Getting on the bus to leave El Hatillo was hard. Leaving a town that is centuries behind our standards of living in the states -Latrines outside, bathing by bucket or river, wood stoves for cooking, and miles away from a store. It just didn’t sit well with me knowing how different and contently I live in the states. Yes, I was getting on a bus to return to my small rural village of Costa Rica who is greatly benefiting from my work in economic development but I still couldn’t hold back the tears when my 3 Nicaraguan sisters walked me to the bus stop at 5 in the morning to wave me off.
I don’t known if it compassion that stands in the way…maybe it is passion to do more. I kept replaying those smiles and laughs in my head from all the wonderful people I met and had to remind myself they are not unhappy people and maybe don’t even consider their lives as poverty stricken, because to me, they were rich with eagerness to live, and happy to be alive.
I am back in Costa Rica and currently at a peace corps training in the capital (San Jose) with all of my fellow volunteers. It is so good to see them! It has been 3 months since I have seen them last! Time is flying by so fast. Here is a pic of us before departing again for what is another 6 months before being together again!