I realize that I didn´t get a post up for September but that does not by any means imply that it was a month lacking in stories and activities. In fact, it was quite the opposite which is why I am just now getting around to writing this. Here´s a quick snapshot of a few of the highlights.
At the end of August, we had an English music festival where a representative from each class in secondary, selected by the teacher, sang a song of his/her choice in English. They were judged by a couple of my housemates and our principal. I wasn't allowed to judge since I had been helping a couple girls work on their song and hence I got assigned to being the MC. I was so nervous getting up in front of everyone, students and coworkers, although I'm pretty sure only a handful of people actually understood what I was saying since I was speaking only in English, like I was asked to do. The girls I had been helping won the competition with their song by none other than Justin Beiber. It was a really fun event!
In the beginning of September, we celebrated my community mate, Bianca's birthday. For her party, she decided that she wanted to have a “Holi” party, an idea inspired by the Indian Holi Festival. We got each other wet with buckets of water and then began throwing colored powder at one another. It reminded me a lot of messy games from the camp where I used to work and I loved the carefree and childlike atmosphere that was created and shared inter-culturally with some of our Nicaraguan friends. The picture is my community mate Lauren and I right after I threw some more colored powder at her.
The nine of us Jesuit Volunteers here in Nicaragua went on a little retreat at the beach. We spent a lot of quality time together, hanging out, playing the guitar around the campfire, and swimming in the Pacific. The picture is the view from the house where we stayed.
September in Nicaragua is a time of great national pride and celebrations. September 14 and 15 are days of independence here and were filled with parades and marching bands. I somehow found myself leading a group of preschool girls in a couple different parades. I made up dance moves to the beat of the band and they imitated what I did. Although they were really long, hot days, the little girls were so cute and excited to be dancing and marching.
I was able to get away for a couple days of vacation. I decided to head way out into the campo to visit a family that I stayed with during language school back in January. I went solita and I was really proud of myself for making it there and back without problems. Being out in this little community was very inspirational. The lifestyle in the campo is much more tranquilo and I appreciated the time that I spent reading, journaling, and reflecting. The food was also delicious - lots of beans, tortillas, and a type of cheese called cuajada, oh, and coffee for both breakfast and lunch! Beyond relishing in the physical surroundings which were very green due to the rain, I was very inspired by the family I stayed with. I stayed with a single mother and her 17 or 18 year old son and we talked about speaking out against injustices and working towards true liberation. The son is a very talented guitar player and he played everything from Guadabarranco, a Nicaraguan group, to the Beatles, to his own songs he made up on the fly. I felt so at ease and at home in the company of that family and in the community as well. I know I am not doing the best job of expressing myself, but I left the community rejuvenated and inspired to dream big. The picture is my host brother and I planting beans.
At the end of September, two of our Jesuit Volunteer Corps staff members from the DC office came to visit. One came to visit me at work to see how things were going and it was a very positive and reaffirming experience for me. She observed one of my classes and it went amazingly well! She expressed that she was impressed and I had to admit that I was too because my students are usually never that well behaved! Then, we went on Re-Orientation/Dis-Orientation retreat with all 9 of us Jesuit volunteers here in Nica. The staff created a beautiful space for us to reflect, share, and discuss our experiences as a JV thus far and we also began to consider the rapidly approaching time of transition. We will be welcoming the new volunteers at the beginning of December and saying see you later to our current second year volunteers towards the end of December.
October has flown by and I have found myself staying very busy, really investing myself here. We had a Halloween party the other night and we are going to dress up again tonight in our house, just for fun!
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Sending you all love from Nica.