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Finding my place.

May 30, 2011

Oh Nicaragua. It is great to be back.
After a full week, I feel as though I have settled in and feel much more at home.
My host family is wonderful. I live with my two sisters (both around my age), my mother (a secretary for a high school), my father (whose job is a mystery to me, but he rides a motorcycle and loves his hammock), the family dog Mia, 3 guard dogs, lots of chickens, 4 parakeets, and 2 turtles that my dad saved from the highway a couple days ago.

The food is delicious, although always too much. They assume that since I am American my stomach is a bottomless pit. On the contrary, I am quite small and struggle to clean my plate (however, they assure me that I will be fatter when I leave). I have tried all sorts of traditional Nicaraguan dishes such as nacatamal (similar to a Mexican tamale, but filled with pork, tomatoes, rice, garlic, onions, potatoes and olives) and lots of chicharrón (fried pork rinds). I never know exactly what kind of fresco (juice) I am drinking because the plethora of fruits here is so vast, but they are (mostly) all delicious.

I suppose the Nicaraguan culture shock isn’t quite as harsh as the new/exciting/scary/uncomfortable experiences the Ugandan interns have been hit with. On one hand, everything seems pretty familiar to me because I have been to León before, and to other parts of Central America in the past couple years. On the other hand, this “familiar” sentiment of traveling is not quite what one would consider normal-everyday life.

As Ben described, my days are spent questioning my thoughts, behaviors and actions to the point that I no longer know what to think or do. Why am I here? Am I actually being helpful? Is the desire to feel needed completely self-centered? Am I learning and receiving more than I am giving? Is being here a one-sided selfish American privilege? I suppose that deep down I know the answers to these questions (otherwise I wouldn’t be here… again). But legitimizing myself is getting more and more difficult especially when it’s the first question everyone asks upon meeting me, “why are you here?” I have recently wanted to respond, “I have no fucking clue.”

I started working with Ayudemos a un Niño last Wednesday, and am slightly embarrassed to say that I only lasted two days. Long story short-I strongly disagreed with the tactics that the teachers used with the 12 autistic kids we were working with. As an outsider, I didn’t feel that I could propose an alternative way of treating the kids, so opted for leaving instead of forcing my own cultural norms upon them.

So, Greg has been on the ball, trying to figure out a new place for me to volunteer. There are several options and I am scoping them all out. I will be sure to update when I decide my final placement. As for now, I will enjoy my time to relax, enjoy León, and participate in the Mothers day festivities.
Nos Vemos.


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