It has been a little over a month since we got back from the “land of lakes and volcanoes,” ‘aka’ Nicaragua, a delegation of six individuals from different lives who willfully spent a week together in another country where language was a barrier for some. It was like a social justice version of MTV’s The Real-World. And, unlike the 90s tv show, it was both a positive and eye-opening experience.
Oftentimes when people from the States go to other countries in the Americas, like Nicaragua, in which not everything is manicured, they talk about a “humbling” experience. But “humbling” seems very pompous and arrogant and overall comes off as if to say, “Oh, look how the poor live. I’m glad I’m not poor.” When humbling is a description of an experience that stems from viewing poverty, it just doesn’t seem appropriate to me.
So Nicaragua, to me, wasn’t humbling; it was different yet familiar. Nicaragua, in particular, Managua, represents a simpler time when people weren’t ruled by technology or social media. Yes, there are phones, internet and all those things related to the technology age but the Nicaraguan people had limits. They enjoy each other's presence; they converse. And so, naturally, did our delegation. Being the youngest in the group and an admitted Instagram addict, talking to strangers, using my phone to actually make phone calls instead of using it like a computer, going on long car rides to rural areas and simply enjoying the beauty of nature were all a little odd, but refreshing. Being in Nicaragua, I felt like I could breathe freely without being (or watching) a screen. It was great!
The purpose of our trip to Nicaragua was to catch up, face-to-face, with our local partners: the Institute of John XXIII (the Institute) and FEDICAMP. Although we’re in contact via email and Skype from our home office in Maryland, being able to see the work being done and directly talking (in Spanish) to the families affected by such work was fantastic.
We got to see homes being built and spoke to multiple families about the experience of having a safe place to live and raise their family. I was excited for the families but also because I saw strong community connections developing due to the way our Homes of Hope program responds to the different needs and conditions of the communities in which it is carried out.
The journey to Esteli provided another opportunity to bond with other members of the delegation as we travelled the open road. Once in Esteli, we were able to visit a number of families impacted by FEDICAMP’s work with the community. We spoke to students, families, and women entrepreneurs who are very active in addressing sustainable agricultural needs (such as access to water) for the greater community.
The Institute and FEDICAMP, along with the communities they serve, think like a team and move like a team, because they are one. So, too, was the Quixote Center and our delegation. We looked out for each other’s well-being. Seeing that theme present throughout the trip made me really proud to be a part of the delegation, to be a staff member at the Quixote Center, and to be associated with great partners such as the Institute and FEDICAMP.
I definitely saw some beautiful lakes (not so much the volcanoes) but surrounding those natural elements were the beautiful people and their fight for social change. Nicaragua made me realize even more that I have a responsibility to take care of the planet. On top of that, I have a responsibility to work alongside different communities because, although we may look different, at the end of the day we all want a safe place to sleep, good food in our bellies, and an opportunity to have a positive impact. Overall my trip was great. I highly recommend Nicaragua as your next adventure. Come join us on the next delegation!
**Photo: Fertility statue common in Nicaragua.**