Thursday, November 20, 2014

Full Circle: Completing Our First Year

These past several months we’ve had unexplained sicknesses that just won’t seem to go away, major water outages, and water leaks.  To save money and find lower rent, we moved out of our home, stored our things in our next home, moved into a temporary apartment, and sold our car (all in one day)! 

Now that we are settled into a friend’s apartment we can reflect back a bit on our first year of teaching here in Nicaragua.  It’s quite fitting that we will be ending this year much the way we began; living in a friend’s home in the center of bustling Matagalpa and getting around town by foot.  It’s funny now to think of those first few days here when we needed hand written maps & land markers to keep from getting lost — we kept a list of buses to take and even our address in our pocket at all times and we struggled to understand what people were saying with their unique Nicaraguan vocabulary.

I remember:
Sleepless nights as I adjusted to living with lots of street noise 
Buying appliances, furniture, and all the basic things we needed to live simply in our new home (in one day!)
Meeting the staff at NCA and starting 3 weeks of staff training with kids in tow 
Finding a pediatrician, on a Sunday, when Evan developed a sudden foot infection
And figuring out all the basics like grocery shopping, cooking, and just how to live here

For anyone back home who might think we’re here on an extended vacation or to have a great adventure, I can emphatically say that is not the case.  Our work here as ‘volunteer’ teachers is extremely demanding, and teaching at a new, developing school has its own set of challenges.  Add to that the daily labor entailed in just living here with a family as well as all the toil involved with raising funds to be here — means we work very long days often 5am to 11pm as well as weekends. Volunteer does not mean we’re living a carefree easy life, it simply means we don’t get paid to fulfill very rigorous full-time teaching positions which we believe passionately in.  I don’t know how many times this year one of us has said, “We just have to get through this week, this month,” or sometimes even “this day.”  But we did get through those tough times as well as many wonderful times.

Eleven months later we now know this town and can celebrate how far we’ve come, how much we’ve learned, and how much good we’ve accomplished.  We can walk the streets without even thinking about which direction we’re going in, we know the good fruit stand and the cheaper grocery store, we can almost always understand what people are saying, and we’ve developed friendships among NCA staff and families.

We’ve also seen huge changes at NCA since the beginning of the year.  It is  remarkable to see the incredible growth our students and my teacher assistant have made.  These last few days with my students are wonderful reminders of why we are here.  I love these kids like they are my own, and am so proud of them.  We’re working on learning songs for our grand graduation coming up on Dec. 6th, and we’ll be culminating with a Latino rockin’ version of the ABCs.  It is such a joy to watch my students laugh, dance, and celebrate what they have learned this year.  I am so excited for what the future holds for them and what they will do with the education they are receiving at NCA. 

We now look forward to going home!  Not for good, but for a very much needed descanso (break).  We are so excited to see our family, friends and visit our home churches!  We hope it will be a time of renewal, relaxation, a time to reconnect and regroup for year number two.

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