Two days. Two days until Andrew and I leave for somewhere totally new, somewhere wholly unexplored. Mention Nicaragua to the average American and, depending on their age, they may hold a passing knowledge of that country’s revolutionary civil war. More than likely they know little to nothing at all about this impoverished Central American country, let alone its geographic location. To that point, after telling a few friends about my voyage, they would later ask me, “So when are you going to South America again?” Before I signed up for this project, I at least I knew where Nicaragua was. What I didn’t know was that it is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere and that the majority of the population over 30 years of age has seen the brutality of a dictatorial regime and a violent civil war. Now, in preparation for this immanent journey, it’s not the fear of the unknown that haunts me, nor the inherent doubt and anxiety that accompanies a novel venture. I find myself confronted by my own luxurious American life like the leering reflection of an unfamiliar face upon my body. In preparing a welcome gift for my host family I began to look through pictures from my life that I thought would represent me well. Looking through these pictures, and mentally comparing the photographic evidence of my existence with the conceptualization I have of Nicaraguan life, I realized how lucky I am to have been born in America, how comfortable my life is, and how extraordinarily fortunate and successful this American life may be compared to the lives of impoverished Nicaraguans. Forced to stare at the magnitude of my fortune, the conceived discrepancy is alarming, if not slightly revolting. I can’t possibly imagine what I will face when my feet are on Nicaraguan soil, but I will try to give as much of myself as I can to the experience. I hope I can take something meaningful back.
As it is only two days before our departure, Bobby and I are both very excited to begin our expedition. Neither of us know exactly what to expect but in the communication we have had with ATRAVES, the service group we are working with in Nicaragua, it seems that the project will be both efficient and organized. One aspect of the trip that I am interested in is the homestay experience. We will each be staying with a Nicaraguan family, thus completely immersing ourselves in Nicaraguan life and culture. From the look of our daily work schedule, it appears we will be exhausted come evening time. The work aspect of the trip is also exciting, however, as we will have a chance to work with and assist the most unfortunate members of Nicaraguan society. I am also very excited about the length of time of this trip (5 weeks) because it gives us time to explore different locations across the country in our free time. Had the trip only been a week or 2, we would not be able to see as much of the beautiful landscape that this Central American nation has to offer. I can honestly say that I feel extremely fortunate and lucky to have such a unique opportunity. Needless to say, I am anxious for our departure!
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