What are you studying at Trinity?
Business with a Management concentration
Why did you decide to participate in the Nicaragua Semester?
I had always wanted to do a semester abroad. I wanted to take the opportunity to live in another culture; something I may never get the chance to do again and that would impact my outlook on life back in the States. Also, my girlfriend was going and we thought this would be an incredible experience to share with each other. And finally I wanted to have some adventure. I’ve grown up in the Chicago suburbs my whole life, and I just wanted to get away and experience something completely foreign to me that I knew would push me out of my box.
Briefly explain your internship. What did you learn and how might you later apply the knowledge?
My internship was to make a short film that could be used by the mission organization to promote their work and at the same time tell the story of a unique group of people and their way of life. Whether by plan or experience, I learned about film production, cross cultural barriers, and about the difficulties being faced by a particular community in Nicaragua. But I also learned much more.
What did you like about Nicaragua? What was a challenge about living there, and how did you deal with those challenges?
Nicaragua is a country with abundant natural beauty and a rich cultural past and present. The Nicaraguans are a proud, animated, persevering, and joyful people. They are happy to welcome you into their country and let you experience their culture, which makes it a wonderful place.
What it is like to live with a host family?
Living with a host family has its challenges and its joys. While you are there, they are your family, your support, and the people you come home to everyday. Obviously there is a language barrier, and the cultural differences of the household can be some of the most personal and hard to adjust to; but I found that if you learn to laugh and find some common ground with your family, all of a sudden you are no longer a foreigner in their house but a part of their family. When you have really become a part of their family, the cultural differences are easier to deal with and the mix of cultures in the house is enriching for everybody involved.
What excursions did you enjoy in your free time?
One of the highlights of my semester was visiting all the exotic locations and historic cities in Nicaragua! You can find yourself at the edge of a volcanic crater, in the heart of a bustling market, surfing on a scenic beach, walking down a cobblestone street in a colonial era city, or in the shadow of a mountain in the peaceful countryside. And what makes all these excursions more fulfilling is the fact that you learn the history behind them in the Culture and History class at the Nehemiah Center.
How did the experience affect you spiritually?
For me, living among people who are struggling just to feed themselves often caused me to think “why me? Why was I born into the richest country in the world and not this guy next to me?” It was through dealing with these types of questions that I believe God was at work in my life. He used these experiences to deepen my understanding of his sovereignty, mold my thinking and my heart, and teach me more about how I myself fit into his kingdom. It was also uplifting to worship with Christians from another part of the world and to see the kingdom of God at work there.
What would you tell other students who are thinking about a semester abroad?
If you have a positive attitude and you’re willing to be pushed out of your comfort zone a little, you will definitely come out with a host of valuable experiences and you will grow as a person.