Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Learning Curve

I can’t begin to write down all the things I’ve learned in the last 5 weeks. (I also can’t believe that I’ve almost been here for 5 weeks) But... Here’s a start.
1.    The problems were here long before I arrived and will be here long after I leave.
I arrived with a real sense of urgency- A need to do something- to make things “better”. I learned that I need to be patient. There are limits to what I personally can do and should do. There are also limits to what the organization as a whole can do. However whatever I can do, I certainly will.

 2.     I learned how to dance.
Yup with an audience of at least 20 kids during lunch at school last week. And yes, Yarseth a teacher at school made sure to get out my flip cam to catch it in action. No one has succeeded in teaching me how to move my hips however. I have 3 more months to learn that.

(The big wave is to the cooks in the kitchen who of course gathered around to watch as well)

3.     I learned you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped.
What does a new home, a new job, and a free education going to do for a family who likes their house, doesn’t want a boss or structured hours of a different job, and couldn’t care less if the kids go to school? Absolutely nothing. Perhaps that’s really pessimistic view, and perhaps my attitude should be to try harder. Or perhaps the right answer is to find others in the country (80% of the population lives in poverty) to help. Or perhaps there isn’t a right answer.

I don't mean for this to sound too pessimistic. The kids in the program don't fall in this category. An excited enthusiastic group of 300 kids come to school the school of hope every day. More than 100 attend our program every week. They soak up everything they possibly can with 

4.     When a Nicaraguan says its hot out, its really hot.
So according to the Nicaraguans “summer” has arrived.  As far as I was concerned, its been summer for the past 5 weeks. However, apparently, the 97 degrees and humidity is the real sign of summer. It cools off to a lovely 88 at night though.

5.     There are dangerous critters here who will attack- even if they don’t feel threatened.
Laura, the executive director from LTN, was here for a visit. I woke up to thrashing and “oww, oww”! We turned the light on to see a scorpion curling its tail on the edge of the bed. She was stung by this supposedly “little” scorpion in the middle of the night. I’m not really okay with scorpions period- much less in my bedroom making sneak attacks in the middle of the night. Luckily, the symptoms are a numb, tingly tongue, and other exacerbated bee sting symptoms. Its also lucky that Laura was so brave.  Nope we weren't brave enough to hunt him down and kill it outselves. We went to wake up Leo, the guard who guards the hotel to take care of it for us. I hope that’s my first and last scorpion encounter.

6.     The best way to learn a language is to be forced into a situation where you have to try and speak it.
There are so many ways to communicate. Facial expressions. Motions. Words. Songs. Silence. Yup. I’ve used them all. And then some. I’ve learned the best way to learn is to put myself out there, forget about the embarrassment and the countless mistakes along the way and simply try. 

7.    All tropical fruit just simply tastes better here in Nicaragua. Period.

Enough of this for now. There will certainly be part two!

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