Sydney ’17 writes:
Today was our 12th morning waking up in Nicaragua. It was another good day, full of activity. We spent time with our students in their classrooms, then gathered with the entire primary school along the street for more of the 25th anniversary celebration competencias. First was a game called The Potato Dance. Teams of two people must hold a potato securely between their cheeks while dancing to lively music to see what set of partners can dance longest without dropping the potato. It is a simple contest that is really difficult (I lost early on) but also really silly and generates lots of laughter. Later, our classes played soccer against each other, and my 5th grade class won. We received a trophy and took a photo with it in the midst of the kids screaming “Ganamos! Ganamos!”
Back in the classroom, I checked math homework and recorded grades for their projects on the native fruits of Nicaragua. My students continued learning about the geography and different cultures of Central American countries.
After lunch we were joined by the senior class for another visit to the elementary school in Barrio Acahualinca next to the city dump. Managua is such a sprawled-out city, strung out along the southern shore of Lake Xolotlan, that it took us 30 minutes to get there. We zigzagged through streets lined with trash recycling businesses, and we saw young children sorting through piles of trash for anything salvageable. At the school, we were set to work making banners with anti-bullying slogans to be posted in the classrooms. As classes were dismissed, more and more youngsters came to watch us work. One little boy kept walking around and pinching our ears, saying something teasing that I didn’t understand.
We also visited Cooperativa Nica HOPE several block away. It is a vocational training center for the community that offers technical training and an afterschool program for youngsters. One of the main projects is a jewelry making cooperative. Children are taught how to make jewelry out of recycled materials for sale. Each of us was paired with one of the children, who taught us how to make simple macramé and bead bracelets, which they then gave us.
We returned to La Nicaragüita for another encuentro, this one with the 9th grade. While we were waiting for the encuentro to begin, we began playing hackey sack (for the billionth time!), and were soon joined by a few children of the barrio, most of them kids who go to the public school or don’t go at all. One barefoot little boy who lives near the school really latched onto us, and to Emilio in particular. He came inside with us for the encuentro, eating supper and then dancing with us. He was maybe 6 years old. No one asked who he was or why he was there. That’s one of the things I like about Nicaragua, sometimes things just happen and no one knows what’s going on but everyone just goes with it without question. One of the things I’ve learned about this place is never to have any kind of expectations for anything because whatever happens is always 72.9% more surprising in actuality.