Updates from Nicaragua

Clarence ’17 writes:

I woke up this morning to the call of my host family’s pet rooster. In Spanish, roosters ¨cantan,¨ or sing. I am not thinking about the beauty of its voice as it acts as my alarm clock. The morning quickly turned into a pleasant one, as I was greeted with smiles and ¨good mornings¨ from everyone I saw.

After our sixth delicious breakfast since arriving in Nicaragua, we were escorted to La Nicaragüita by the cheerful second grade class. I am helping out with the third grade class, and when I walked into the packed classroom, I was given enough hugs for a lifetime. I did the best I could at teaching the kids how to write and say large numbers until their recess. I pulled out my deck of cards, expecting to have to ask the kids to sit with me for a game, but was promptly bombarded with ¨¿Qué vamos a jugar?¨ (What are we going to play?) from every student around me.

Now, Go Fish is not a particularly difficult game, but thirty-five minutes was barely enough time to get started. By the time I could articulate the rules, we had to get back to work. ¨We can play later,¨ they said as they pulled out their social studies books. Not too long after we started class, there were more scheduled ¨competencias¨ (field day competitions). So we took a break from the books and the whole elementary school lined the street to take their turns playing musical chairs (without chairs–a very clever adaptation), tug-of-war, and other games.

Then it was back to work. I helped teach the kids about how water helps communities grow, then we had a lesson about friendship and what we think it should mean. Lastly, we practiced English vocabulary.

It was a good school day for the little kids, and I was already exhausted when we went to practice our salsa dancing at 11:00 a.m. Our teacher, Roberto, was not about to let us sit around, and before we knew it, we were learning new choreography. When lunchtime rolled around, we were starving. We ate quickly and quietly, excited to have a few minutes to relax.

After our break, we returned to La Nicaragüita to help with the high school students. I sat in on a Spanish literature class, helping the teacher as much as I could. I helped the English teacher a little before we were invited to participate in some competencias with the secondary students. We powered through our sweat-drenched exhaustion and managed to win a few events. Afterwards, the tenth grade threw us an amazing surprise party to thank and congratulate us for finishing our first week. We talked and danced until it was time to eat dinner, and we said goodbye to our friends at La Nicaraguita for the night. Dinner, just like every other meal, was fantastic, and we each left for our respective host homes happy and full.

Things I learned today:
A class full of sixth graders is way more competitive in a game of tug-of-war than a class full of ninth graders.
My host family actually has two pet hens and a rooster, not just the one rooster I had seen.
It´s difficult to explain the acts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to eight-year-olds in a foreign language.
Playing hackey-sack is way more fun than it sounds.
There is no translation for ¨humbling¨ in any English-to-Spanish dictionary.

Overall, the day was great and the week was wonderful. I am more than awestruck by these kids, and I can’t begin to describe my respect for Rafaela and her colleagues. I love this place more every day.


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Filed under Faculty and Staff, Service, Students

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