Adventures in Nicaragua Q & A - Joanna's Interview
What are you studying at Trinity?
Business Communications with a minor in Communications
Have you traveled, served, or interned in the past as a Trinity student?
This was my first time leaving the country and my first internship. At Trinity, I have served as a Resident Assistant and an FYF Mentor.
Why did you decide to participate in the Nicaragua Semester?
Going to Nicaragua was only a dream. It became a reality in late October 2009 when I stopped to say hello to my communication professors and Dr. Annalee Ward was the only one in her office. By the time I left, I was going to Nicaragua. It was clear that God had this planned all along because somehow it fit my schedule and plans to graduate in May 2011. God opened a door, and I knew better than to close it, and at that point in my life, it was an irresistible experience.
Briefly explain your internship. What did you learn and how might you later apply the knowledge?
My journalism internship was based at the Nehemiah Center in Managua, Nicaragua. I accomplished five main things. First, I wrote four feature stories for four different projects that were in need of more funding because their grants were running out. Second, I updated the website by taking new staff photos and updating the bios. Third, I improved the marketing and communications of the Semester in Nicaragua program. Fourth, I assisted Greg in the making of his film, particularly in the editing suite. Fifth, I sat in on the writing of a grant proposal and edited it before sending it off to the donor.
The knowledge and experience I gained was incredible. The main thing I gained was confidence; this internship helped me to see that I can produce a quality product/service. The skills that I learned I will use for the rest of my life; I feel blessed to have the internship that I did.
What did you like about Nicaragua? What was a challenge about living there, and how did you deal with those challenges?
The first month I loved everything about Nicaragua then all of a sudden the culture shock hit me like a brick. It was very challenging to be uncomfortable day in and day out; I think I struggled for about two months. I got through it by prayer, meditation, and talking through it. One thing in life that I have learned is that you have to let yourself experience what you are really feeling, so I did and eventually I was able to make it though the day without complaining in my head. And then I realized that I had fallen in love with the place when I stepped off the plane back home in Chicago; I began to cry, wondering if I should have left.
What it is like to live with a host family?
Living with a host family had its positives and negatives. It was good because I really got to see how a Nicaraguan family functions day-to-day. In the mornings, many times I would be awakened at 6 a.m. by the stereo and Roberto, my house father, singing loudly and then Jaser yelling out for Mommy because she was outside washing the laundry before the sun got too hot. When we arrived home, Grieselda and Jaser were always there to greet us with friendly “Buenas!”
What excursions did you enjoy in your free time?
Usually, when there was free time from traveling or studying/interning I was exhausted and just wanted to relax. My favorite things to do were either go to the mall to see a movie for $3.00 or sit at Café Esperanza (hope) and sip a frappuccino and relax in the comfortable chairs and air conditioning.
How did the experience affect you spiritually?
Being in Nicaragua I realized that it was just God and me, because besides Greg, nobody else really knew me. I had to be disciplined in reading the Word and having dialogues with God. My biggest prayer was that I would learn what God wanted me to and that I would experience and better understand how God was moving in Nicaragua. I think that no matter what challenges I faced it was all worth it because that prayer was answered.
What would you tell other students who are thinking about a semester abroad?
I think that a semester abroad is not for everyone, especially Nicaragua. But, it presents you with an experience that you can’t get on campus. If you are looking for something different, a challenge or experience that not many have had, go to Nicaragua, or do another semester abroad. I guess I would say, at least everyone should consider it. Don’t close a door that God may be trying to open.