Joanna in Nicaragua - Study Abroad Journal
Trinity students have the life-changing opportunity to study abroad through the College’s semesters in Spain, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Other opportunities exist through partner organizations.
Joanna Dykstra ’11 of Hammond, Indiana, is studying in Nicaragua this semester. Follow her each month on her study abroad adventure…
January and February Journal
Thursday, January 28, 2010
We are now in Managua. Our host family is awesome! Roberto and Greiselda and their 2-year-old son have been very welcoming. The language barrier has been interesting, but it is fun to read the dictionary together and play charades.
This morning I woke up by a natural alarm clock at 5:30 am: A ROOSTER LIVES OUTSIDE OF MY WINDOW...no sleeping in for me, I guess. Greiselda made Greg and I each a big fruit platter for breakfast, yummy! After I ate, Greiselda helped me unpack my things; she is very helpful.
It is very hot compared to y’all’s 15 degree weather. All in all, I love it here and can't wait to learn more about Managua!
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Here are some photos of my house. The top left is where we eat meals; it is the view from my bedroom. The top right is the front room. There is a TV in there, we watch a lot of television. Nicas like things loud because that means happiness, when things are quiet it signals loneliness, therefore either the stereo or tv is always on. The tv is good because then all of us can laugh together. The bottom left is the kitchen (La cocina). The bottom right is the front of the house. It is enclosed by a gate. In the picture is Yasert y Greiselda. The dog's name is Rambo, he is there for protection. There are a lot of pretty gardens in the yard too.
Today we went to a church called Iglesia Verbo. I LOVED IT! It reminded me of my church at home, Mercy Hill. The only difference is that it was louder and bigger. Nicas have very, very loud churches, it’s really cool. The songs were in Spanish, but I understood all of them, and three of them were Hillsong songs. The sermon was in Spanish, but there was a translator. I want to go back there.
Tomorrow I start classes at the Nehemiah Center. I will be taking Spanish and Nica culture/history. I will take classes for half the time I am here. I will be taught by some staff at the center. The last half of the semester I will do my internship.
I wish I could tell you guys everything, but that would take so much time. Thank you for your prayers!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
This week we started our classes. I decided that we needed to take a “First Day of School” picture while we were waiting at our bus stop. We have to take two buses to get to the Nehemiah Center.
Samantha, the other girl in the picture, and I are in an advanced Spanish class. Greg and Tim are in beginner Spanish. My classroom is in the Nehemiah center; it is nice and open to the outside.
I decided that I want to add another day of Spanish instead of taking the media class that Sam, Tim, and Greg are taking. Starting next week I will have four hours of Spanish three days a week. That means that I am going to get a new teacher, and it will be one-on-one. I am also studying Nica Culture and History and Worldview. I have a lot of homework already, but it is all fascinating to me so I don’t mind doing the work.
Since I am not taking that media class, I will have one day free to do something else. Some staff at the Nehemiah Center are going to find me some opportunities; I may even get to teach English to some of the staff!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
This weekend we went to a giant crater named “Laguna de Apollo.” It was beautiful! While we were there I did a lot of kayaking and swimming. We stayed in a cabana that was right on the water. It was very relaxing and a nice break from busy Managua.
On one of my many ventures out on the kayak, I went right to the middle of the laguna. I looked out and all I saw was God’s creation. The only words that I could sing were “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” The next line in that song is “with all creation I sing, praise to the king of kings, you are my everything and I will adore you.” Those words had a new meaning. It was as if creation was singing along with me how holy Christ is. Christ did not need to make the earth so beautiful and intricate, but he did, and for that I am grateful.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Nica food is very yummy, but it is different than I think most of you would assume. Nica food is kind of bland, depending on the item. There is one thing that is at almost every meal: gallo pinto (rice and beans). I like it so much, that I am slightly disappointed if it is not at a meal. Another typical item is ensalada (salad). The salad is made with raw cabbage. It has lime and salt in it. They will sometimes add tomatoes and cucumbers to it. There is also this topping called “crema.” The yellow things in the picture are fried plantains. There is not a ton of variety in the typical Nica diet. The reason is because they eat for survival, we on the other hand eat for enjoyment. In Nica, they also eat their meals differently than in the states. In Nica, breakfast is the biggest meal, then lunch is big too, and dinner is smaller. It is hard to adjust to not having a hearty dinner, but it is probably better to do it in that order.
Monday, February 15, 2010
This weekend we ventured out to the Pacific Coast. Our plans were to learn how to surf. In Nica, Don is a term of respect; I now call the ocean Don Ocean because I have a deep respect for it.
I’ve been to the ocean once before, but I only went in it for a few moments because I was scared. This time, I was fearless. I got my boogie board and dove right in, trying to swim past where the waves broke. I kept at it, but every time a wave came I got shoved back onto shore. The sum of my story is that I did not attempt surfing; I realized that I do not have the strength to paddle past the waves. My dreams were shattered this weekend, for my secret dream was to move to the ocean and be a surfer babe. But, I will stay positive. Greg did a pretty good job surfing. He never got up, but he got close a couple of times. With some more practice, I have no doubt he will be a surfer dude.
In addition to swimming a lot in the ocean, we ate some yummy food at some restaurants on the beach nearby. Also, my prof, Dan Brun, and my friend Samantha and I made a reggae music video. To say the least, we had a weekend full of laughter.
And one last thing: Nicaragua has the best chocolate ever!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Yasert is my little brother for the semester. He is two years old; he is, in every sense of the phrase, in his terrible twos. From the time he wakes up until he falls asleep at night, he is on the go, literally never stopping. I have nicknamed him “El Huracan” or “The Hurricane.” Greiselda amazes me with her patience and her ability to laugh at him; he is truly a bundle full of joy.
Friday, February 19, 2010
On October 3, 1998, Hurricane Mitch killed almost an entire community. Those who survived had nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Hurricane Mitch stopped over the community of Santa Maria; for almost two weeks it did not stop raining, causing a mudslide. The scale of this disaster is similar to what is going on in Haiti at the moment. Because this community was up in the mountains, many people did not know the extent of the damage going on, and it made it difficult for rescue and relief agencies.
Although Hurricane Mitch happened 11 years ago, those who survived are still struggling to manage. Last week, we went and visited the Santa Maria community and I was able to interview many of the families affected. One woman I talked with lost all four of her daughters, her parents, and many other relatives. She was one of the 11 people who were on the mountain during Hurricane Mitch who survived.
The Santa Maria community was helped by relief agencies. They were all built and given new homes. This was great because it provided them with a roof over their head. The problem was and still is, they don't have a way to make money to survive. The Santa Maria community was all farmers. Along with all their other possessions, their land was destroyed. Eleven years later, some have found enough work to have beans for dinner every night, while others wonder how they are going to find food for the next day because there is no land for them to farm.
There are many sad stories to be told, but all of them have an amazing faith that has brought them through. The shack you see above, started as a table outside of the school in Santa Maria. Petrona, a survivor of Hurricane Mitch, realized she could make a profit by selling snacks to the students. A year later, she has a building, and is able to survive off the profits. Not only does she survive, she helps many other families by providing work and giving them money to live.
Saturday, February 27
We came to Costa Rica to learn more about the topic of immigration. Because the politics and economy are very bad in Nicaragua, many immigrate to Costa Rica for work. We have had the opportunity to talk to people on all sides of the issue. Yesterday, we toured some of Costa Rica and went to a human rights organization to interview a woman who works in the area of immigration rights.
Today we climbed up to see a crater volcano and a crater laguna; they were both very beautiful. Along the way we had some fun adventures too! It was bittersweet these past two days because I have been very nauseous, and I was wheezing all the way up the volcano, but I tried to make the best of it.
But today we saw something different, and I want to try and describe my situation to you:
I wanted to cry because I did not know how to process the things I was seeing, not the volcano,
but the second half of our day, La Carpio.
La Carpio is a Nicaraguan neighborhood that has formed in Costa Rica. It is a community of people who have a great hope to make a better life. I have no pictures to share, but I do have stories.
Many people opened up their homes to us and talked openly about their lives, answering the questions we had. I can’t describe the community to you, but it is full of people who do not have much physically but are filled with hope; spiritually they are rich. The dilemma is that I don’t know where to go from here. All they asked is that we pray for their families; that we pray for more people to know Christ. That I can, and will do. It’s hard to see amazing people suffer; and it’s really hard to just walk away and go on with your day. You want to help so badly, but I just don’t know how.
Maybe by the time I leave here I will understand better how to truly love people the way Christ does.