Joanna in Nicaragua - Study Abroad Journal
March Journal Entries
Wednesday, March 3
Hay Muchas Cosas
A month in. A bit homesick. A lot to process at one time.
In the midst of every great thing there are always moments where you wish you could speed up time, or at least pause it to breathe. Yesterday I had a moment and thanks to Greg, I could talk it out.
At this particular point in my life I have a lot to think about, as far as my future goes. I have fallen in love with a lot of Nica things. If you don’t know me, I get really excited and passionate about good things easily. In my brain, every other second I say I am going to move here, then the next moment I’m saying I just want to go back to Chicago. It’s very exhausting. I am aware that I do not need to make that decision right now, so then I think, “Joanna, stop thinking about that!”
Yesterday I was chopping away, dicing carrots and celery for dinner. Little ants were running rampantly across the table and the food. Ants everywhere in the house is just normal. I have been able to get over some of my phobia of ants, but on days where I’m homesick and my mind is all over the place, it’s hard to find the strength to get over myself.
Monday, March 8
Ometepe was beautiful. It took five hours to get there. We had to take a bus and a ferry, but it was worth it. We had planned on doing some adventurous things like hiking, biking, kayaking, etc., but that did not happen. We decided to relax; I was very happy about that decision.
We stayed in two different hostels. The first night we saw a beautiful sunset and took a walk through the little town. The second night we were at Finca Magdelena. B-E-Autiful. Everything is cheap, so we lived it up and ate some really good food, walked to a rocky beach, and played cards all night while staring at the two volcanoes in the short distance.
It took a lot of energy to get everywhere, but I slept in this morning until 7 a.m. I feel rested and ready to start my last two weeks of class.
Love and Peace
Wednesday, March 10
Feliz Cumpleanos Gregorio!
Greg had his 21st birthday on Monday! Everyone made it very special for him.
The day started when Roberto and Yasert (I found out it is spelled Jasser), played a wake-up and birthday song outside of Greg’s door. Jasser played the marimba and Roberto played a ukulele.
After class, I took Greg out to Todoasada for dinner. Todoasada is this great “hole in the wall” restaurant that’s only three blocks from our house, with the most delicious meat and ensalada! It is one of our favorite places in Managua to eat.
After dinner, Greg and I walked back home, and we had a fiesta. There was cake, very loud music, many speeches, toasts, singing, and laughter. Then on Tuesday, Griselda made a special dinner in honor of Greg’s birthday.
Nicas love to celebrate life!
Friday, March 12
Gracias a Dios es Viernes
Out of all the Gringo (name for Americans) restaurants to have, Managua has TGI Fridays. We needed a break from the culture immersion and were in serious need of a night out; we headed to TGIF for dessert.
While devouring our scrumptious dessert, we realized what a family we have become. It’s amazing how we never run out of things to talk about. This year, they decided to do things a bit differently and have us all live together in one house. The first month it was a bit difficult because all you want to do is experience the culture without any hindrances. Living with three other North Americans hinders that a bit.
Now, during the second month, we are extremely grateful to have each other. Living in a culture that has virtually no similarities to your usual one definitely has its ups and downs. Having others to “talk through” the frustrations and funny moments is extremely important in this context. Even though we all come from different worlds, we all have the same thing in common: everything here is different.
I am grateful for my roommates here, and I am grateful for this opportunity to be stretched.
Love and Peace
Tuesday, March 16
The Nehemiah Center is where I spend most of my time. It is an organization that contains multiple non-profits that are working to rebuild the walls of Nicaragua. Nicaragua has had many natural disasters, wars, and political instability. The organizations within the center work in various cities in Nicaragua to train the leaders with a biblical worldview, help communities see what potential they have, and aid them along in the process.
Tomorrow I am having my last day of class; I will be taking my Spanish final, which should take me three hours to complete! We had a meeting this week to finalize my internship plans. I will start it after spring break.
I have a couple main objectives during my seven-week internship:
1. To work closely with the Nehemiah Center staff on materials in support of the work being done on HIV/AIDS and domestic violence. This will include promotional materials, which will be used to attract donors, and articles that can be used in publications.
2. To pursue an independent study on the issue of sex trafficking in Nicaragua. I will do research on the topic and summarize my findings.
3. Work on the promotion of the Trinity Semester in Nicaragua program. This includes coming up with creative strategies, gathering personal testimonies, rewriting promotional materials, etc.
Next week is Spring Break. My brother and sister-in-law, Vince and Lauren, are heading down to Nicaragua. Greg and I will be spending the week in San Juan Del Sur with them. I am really looking forward to relaxing and seeing some family!
Love and Peace
Friday, March 19
Buen Trato, Cada Rato
Yesterday I went up to Chinandega, about 2 ½ hours north, for the day. I went with an organization that I will be working with for the next seven weeks.
We visited a couple of secondary schools, 7-12th graders, to talk to them about domestic violence. We gave them a vaccination against abuse, the vaccine was a lollipop. The students’ faces were filled with relief; they thought we were actually going to give them a shot!
Along with the lollipop, we gave them a bookmark. The bookmark had a white heart where the students would put their fingerprint. This was their pledge that they would not be a violent person and they would treat people with respect.
The organization is called Buen Trato Cada Rato. They are working to prevent domestic violence before it becomes a huge problem. The Nehemiah Center also has many programs that try to prevent epidemics. I think that is a good thing to do, instead of waiting to act until it becomes a big problem.
I’M VERY EXCITED BECAUSE I’M ON SPRING BREAK!
Friday, March 26
San Juan Surf
This week my brother and sister-in-law came out to visit for spring break. We headed out to the Pacific Coast with the intent of surfing and relaxing on the beach every day. I am happy to report that that is exactly what we did.
Although my previous attempt to surf failed, this one did not. I got up multiple times and can’t wait till the next time I get to ride the waves.
We rented a beautiful house that was only a five minute or less drive to the beach. Overall, the week was spectacular; we surfed, talked, relaxed, ate, and played cards. I feel re-energized now. God has been showing me a lot, and I am excited to see what else he has in store for the next seven weeks of my internship.
Love and Peace