Bianca Braganza is a 3rd year health studies student who received funding from HSSA for her alternate spring break trip to Nicargua in February. This is just one of the opportunities that students have used the Student Opportunity Fund for to improve their western experience!
To put my trip to Nicaragua into words is simply impossible. From children who would make anyone’s heart melt, to a supportive and encouraging team, there was nothing more I could ask for in creating a life changing trip that gave me memories and experiences to last a lifetime. Here are only a few of the highlights of my trip:
Teaching English in Jinotega
The most exciting part of the trip was undoubtedly my experience with the children. Excited and ready to learn, they were always engaged in our programming and activities. Our camp was an intensive English program that allowed to children to reinforce the English lessons they learned in school. Our camp began with children rushing into the church eager to read English books with us. We took turns reading to them and having them read to us, and the most fulfilling part was seeing them grow and be able to read and pronounce words better with each day. For the lessons, we were given vocabulary words at the beginning of our trip for each day, and in turn the night before we taught, we created lesson plans that included our set vocabulary words. Everyone got extremely creative- from songs, to picture diagrams, to interactive word activities, and the children always responded positively and with excitement and energy to each and every of our activities. It truly was an incredible experience watching the children display such energy and eagerness to learn.
Hiking Up Pena de la Cruz - Mountain in Jinotega
One of the most rewarding experiences we had as a team was hiking up one of the many beautiful mountains in Jinotega. Approximately 1000 stairs, we spent a morning hiking up Pena de la Cruz while taking breaks to admire and take in the beautiful view of the city below. Once we were atop the mountain, it was absolutely stunning to see the city from so high above- an absolutely breathtaking experience.
Visiting the Cemetery
There was something deeply moving about visiting the cemetery for us. As we walked around in silence, we were overcome with how colorful and alive the cemetery really was. Filled with color and flowers, it exemplified the celebration of life. We then learnt that everyone, regardless of class or gender of family status was buried in the same cemetery. This came as a shock to us, and we grew an even greater appreciation for the culture in Nicaragua.
Overall, if I could summarize this trip in one word it would be: indescribable. An eye opening experience and opportunity for self growth, this trip put a lot of things into perspective for me: from things I take for granted to how I need to be more grateful. It also reinforced my passion and love for global health and education, and I definitely plan on returning to Jinotega one day.