Reflections

Today was my last day teaching at Ometepe Bilingual School. For the past few days everyone has been asking me if I am sad to be almost done with my time volunteering. Yes, there is a part of me that is sad. The kids here love their teachers, especially their English teachers. So, there is no better cure for being a lonely traveler than little kids running up to you and hugging you whenever they see you.

And I will really miss moments like this.

I feel like this is yet another instance when a picture is worth a thousand words. What can I really say about Walmero that isn’t better explained by this picture? This was during an English class, by the way. We were walking around looking at the flowers and practicing colors and counting.

While all the kids are fantastic in their own way, my heart is breaking to not be able to wander over to Frutilandia any time just to say hi to Luvianca and Walmero. It is honestly more just hanging out with them that I will miss. We have gone to get some pop and they also took me on a wild goose chase for “mamones” which I had tried in Altagracia (the reason I was there is a blog post or two by itself). Anyway, I attempted to buy some and I was told that they literally grow on trees and that someone could just give me some. Diana, another little English student, said her aunt had some so the four of us went through plantain trees and under barbed-wire fences to find some. In the end, her aunt was kind enough to humor me and gave me a whole bag full.

The part of me is not sad is the part that is so excited to finally see Chris again. Those of you that know us personally know what a hard year and half it has been. Frankly, some days I am not sure how I got to the light at the end of the tunnel when there were so many issues to deal with at the same time. I guess I still have a few little things left to deal with, but now I have soooo many things to be grateful for now (even though we all know I would trade them all to have my dad back).

One of those things (that I am grateful for, not that I would trade) is Chris. How someone can be there helping through so much without one complaint, I’ll never know. Nor will I understand why I am so lucky to have had that in an overwhelmingly difficult time. But I am trying desperately to show him how grateful I am because I don’t think there would have been much light at the end of the tunnel without him. He doesn’t seem to take too kindly to “Thanks” so I thought perhaps a trip to Nicaragua would do the trick.

But of course, I had to make the most out of this trip, which is how the volunteering came about in the first place. Poor Chris has been at home with all the chores and the puppy to take care of. And he’s been a good sport about that too. I’m really glad because teaching at Ometepe Bilingual School and especially in the community, has been such a positive experience in so many ways. I am so happy that I got to get to know the community a little bit while I was here (although I feel like another month and I’d know everyone’s names!). I also feel like I learned a lot about teaching, even though it was a completely different group of students than I ever have in the states.

Volunteering, especially here, is something I would highly recommend for other people as long as you force yourself to immerse yourself as much as possible. It is incredibly easy to avoid getting to know people when you travel or live abroad, but in doing so, you are robbing yourself of such a great experience. I can say that from experience my own experience in Spain. I didn’t realize at the time that I should have lived with a host family and I probably should have sought out a different program that offered classes with Spanish students rather than all Americans. But you live and you learn and then you come to Nicaragua and do better…

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