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I Left My Heart in Nicaragua

Photo by: Amigos For Christ

Lily Lucero ‘18, Section Editor

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In our social media centered, future driven, busy world, it is far too easy to lose sight of simplicity and pure happiness. In Nicaragua, this is not an issue. On the recent service immersion trip to Chinandega, Nicaragua, fifteen OLP students experienced the true meaning of loving and serving one’s dear neighbor. We worked alongside the native Nicaraguans through Amigos for Christ, an organization that promotes the upholding of human dignity through their water and sanitation, healthcare, education and nutrition, and economic development projects. We learned to embrace the relaxed lifestyle of Nicaragua and to live for a week as the natives do in order to more fully appreciate the colorful culture of the country.

 

We began our community work in the small town of La Chuscada, where Amigos for Christ is working alongside the locals to build an elementary and middle school. The preschool and kindergarten were opened in 2016, and as we pick-axed the trenches for the foundation walls of the secondary school, we watched the young children play outside, spraying water on each other and laughing uncontrollably. We had been told upon our arrival at the work site on that first day that our diligent work is important, but what matters most is that we engage with the people and form relationships. That day, we all had the privilege of meeting some of the kids and visiting their homes, where we were embraced with open arms. To many of us the trust and hospitality the Nicaraguans showed was unfamiliar, as American culture is much different. We befriended many of the children, one of whom stood out to many of us. Dereck, a twelve year old boy who lives in the Chuscada community, caught up with us on our walk through the town during our lunch break on Monday. His desire to learn English and his vibrant smile gave him the attention of the adoring OLP girls. Throughout the week we met some amazing people who continued to show us an abundance of hospitality as we continued work in another community, working alongside families to construct bathrooms consisting of flushing toilets and running showers.

Photo by: Olivia Gastaldo ‘18

 

This trip was a truly life changing experience where we not only learned more about ourselves but also became more devoted to service of our dear neighbor. Working with the Nicaraguans provided all of us, students and teachers alike, with new perspectives. I returned home with the determination to continue the pursuit of my passion for social justice and the upholding of human dignity. There is a distinct difference between working for someone and working with someone. This trip fostered solidarity and bridged divides that were based on the socioeconomic differences and cultural variations of our two countries. As I settle back into my routine in San Diego, I constantly remind myself of the people I met and how they changed me. I will never forget them, and they have made a lasting impact on my life and those of my fellow Pilots.

 

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I Left My Heart in Nicaragua