Emilio ’17 writes:
After a delicious breakfast of tortillas with melted cheese, frijoles, chopped tomatoes and onions, watermelon, tamarind juice, and coffee, we were escorted around the corner for our last day of classes at La Nicaraguita. Inevitably, it was an emotional day for both the Nicaraguan students and for the George School students. After some usual lessons in our classrooms, the entire preschool and primary school gathered for an assembly to celebrate our time together and to say goodbye. After we sang the national anthem, the Nicaraguan students performed several folkloric dances, complete with costumes, and also recited poems and chanted cheers grade by grade. At one point Roberto, the dance teacher and Master of Ceremonies, announced that George School students would now perform a salsa dance. We had practiced it, but we didn’t know we were performing it this morning! Full of laughter, we scrambled into our places and the music started. Roberto danced with Lili, so we kept looking at him to keep ourselves going. It went okay actually, and the Nica students cheered us loudly. Fortunately, the music cut off before the finale, which most of us didn’t really know how to do. The assembly ended with each of us being called to the center, where the children from our respective classes showered us with small gifts and big hugs. I felt so honored to be at La Nicaraguita and to be part of such an incredible experience.
After the closing ceremony we got some time to hang out with our students. As usual, Alec and I got a game of hacky sack going with a few kids, and others soon flocked towards us. Playing hacky sack has become a tradition during these two weeks at La Nicaraguita, and it was sad to think that this would be the last time I would be playing with some of these kids. I gave my hacky sack to Jonathan, a fifth grader who is probably one of the nicest and most fun kids I’ve met on this trip, in the hopes that he will continue the tradition.
After lunch we returned to spend the afternoon with the secondary school students, whom we’ve gotten to know better thanks to the evening encuentros and the outings when they have come with us. They were taking tests at first, but when those were over, the afternoon became a permanent recess with a series of games. One was musical chairs, and it proved to be very competitive. In the end only I and a 7th grade boy were left, dancing around one chair. When the music stopped we both sat down fast, the chair tipped over backwards, and somehow I managed to keep my seat! After the games, the dancing began, despite the heat. When school was over we moved into the street to play stick ball with some of the La Nicaraguita kids and some kids from the barrio who go to public school. They had a real bat, but we used their homemade balls which were surprisingly good, constructed of tightly wound scraps of cloth and then covered with layers of clear tape. They really sailed when hit, and we had to retrieve many balls from roofs down the street.
Soon it was suppertime: gallo pinto, a cabbage slaw, queso, and platanos fritos, with cantaloupe juice. Tonight when our families arrived we carried with us two large bags of grocery items to contribute to the homes that have hosted us so generously. It’s hard to believe we fly home day after tomorrow.