Going to Jiquilillo, Nicaragua was a whole new experience for me. I had never been on a service trip – let alone to a developing country. So when I boarded the plane, I didn’t know what to expect.
My first two days in Nicaragua were amazing. I went swimming and surfing, and also went for an hour-long bike ride along the beautiful white sand beach. For the first two days of the trip we mostly stayed at the lodge (Monty’s Beach Lodge). On Monday, we had our orientation day and heard all about the projects that Monty (Don Montgomery) and his business partner Gerry (Caceres) were doing for the community. After the orientation, I couldn’t help but think how amazing these two people were to put so much love and effort into the community of Jiquilillo. It was amazing to see. They don’t just help people by giving them money or food – they actually create programs where the residents can learn new jobs and start making a living on their own. They plan for the short-term but also think about the long-term for this community.
Tuesday and Wednesday were so much fun. On Tuesday, we went to Los Zorros School and played with the kids. It was really nice to see them in a good school and they all looked so happy that we were there. I picked up a soccer ball and right away three kids ran over and started passing with me. Even though there was a language barrier, it was hardly noticeable. Hand gestures and my limited ability to speak Spanish were enough for the kids to understand me. The next day we went to Padre Ramos School and did a very simple art project that the kids loved.
Thursday had the biggest impact on me. We went to the city of Chinandega and visited a dump where close to 3000 people live. The kids there were thin and very dirty, yet whenever I asked how they were doing they would smile and say they were good. It was amazing to see that these people have next to nothing but seem happier than people here who have everything.
This trip reminded me to be thankful for what I have and recognize that I am very privileged to be going to a school like SMUS.
Read more about the SMUS students in Nicargua on their trip blog. Alison (Moat) Graeme ’80 spoke to teacher chaperones Cheryl Murtland and Nikki Kaufmann. Hear why they decided to go to Nicargua below.