Call Me Beeky
Dearest readers: I am still sweating. I’m writing this blog with the fan approximately 9 inches away from my face and yet I continue to sweat.
It’s been a little over three weeks now—geez that’s a long time! A brief breakdown of what’s been going on in the world of Vic since my last blog post: I finally know what I’m doing!!! Early last week I began my work with Project Opportunity—this includes tutoring a 14 year-old girl and 16 year-old boy in English separately but each for two hour time periods; I have started the oral hygiene program at a nearby preschool, “Las Tortuguitas,” where I am also an assistant teacher for the 5 year-olds. In one week I went from being Victoria (pronounced Bictoria) and Beeky, to Profesora Bictoria, and also “Tia”(which means aunt/auntie and is very common here).
For now my week is fairly busy—I am volunteering at the preschool 3-4 times a week and am teaching the kids how to brush their teeth/basic dental care 3-4 times as well (these lessons are given right after the kids eat their breakfast and is taught by yours truly and two volunteer mothers). After the lessons the mothers leave and I resume my position as Profe Victoria, helping with arts and crafts, sing-alongs, writing, and yelling at the kids in Spanish—it’s a wild experience let me tell you. The Preschool is in session from 7am-3pm. There is only one session and the kids are there the whole day. Let’s just say I have a new found respect for preschool teachers. God. Bless. You.
When I’m not at the preschool I am either tutoring or working with a family cooperative of weavers (this local family started their own business and make beautiful fabrics that serve as blankets, table cloths, beach towels, scarves—you name it!). Both of these activities I really love. Especially tutoring. When I began giving the lessons I was nervous because I’ve never tutored someone in English but it went SO well!! I met with the first girl I tutored at a library in the next town over. What they call a library is more like a room or two with a few walls of books, workbooks, and encyclopedias that kids and students use when doing homework. From what I gather, not many people go to the library even though it’s free, but it truly is a great place to do homework and the people that run it are eager to help the kids of the community and really do care about their performance and want the kids to reach their full potential both in and out of school. Anyways, back to tutoring—the girl I am tutoring is 14 and is struggling in English specifically with pronunciation and vocabulary. She is a sweetheart, she’s extremely motivated (I really admire this), and is so eager to learn! We worked on her homework and did extra readings and questions in a workbook she had. I then used one of the library’s workbooks and we worked in that. And then we did tongue twisters! Tutoring English was so easy for me and I could tell both of us enjoyed it. Aside from it being easy for me I think the girl learned a lot—or at least she said I was a big help!
On the bus ride back to Leon I couldn’t help but smile—I know I must have looked so creepy to everyone else on the bus—oops! Aaha. I was just thinking about how cool it was that I have this ability to speak English—something I can just do without thinking about, it’s something I’ve always been able to do, but now this ability is useful to someone else besides me! How cool is that! Sure, me tutoring a 14 year girl may not exactly change the world, but I’m helping her develop a skill that she can then put to use. Tutoring has definitely been a highlight of the trip thus far because it is an experience I get to share and do with someone else.
On a new note, I wanted to share with you something I’ve noticed in the communities we have visited. On each of the trips/excursions we have been on, I am continuously impressed, touched, and blown away by the strong sense of community shared amongst individuals. For starters, Nicaraguans love their country. I have been told by various Nicas how much they are in love with their country and how they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. That in itself is beautiful because I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that about the country they are from and if so, with such passion. Aside from loving their country and all that comes with it I have noticed how much people watch after one another.
On our third day here in Nicaragua I was speaking to a waiter at Laguna de Apoyo. The man must’ve been in his 70’s and had the energy of a teenage boy. He was a thin old man who was always running up and down the inclined slope carrying trays back and forth. I forget how we got to talking, but the subject was about differences between the US and Nica and one of the things he said which really stuck with me was “The difference between the US and here is that there, if you don’t have a job or make money for a month you starve or go hungry. Here, you can go a month without any money and be fine because here your neighbors will make sure you have food to eat and will lend you a pound of rice here, a pound of beans there, you know you will be ok.” That is truly beautiful. I think of the old man and even my host family and see how everyone—family, extended family, neighbors, friends—is always watching out for one another. There is always communication—or commotion in the case of my host family (we have 15 cousins running in and out of the house daily) and people know what is going on. This is SO different from my home home. This is sad, but I don’t even know one of the families that live next door. Sure I may recognize the kids—I hope I would at least; but I DEFINITELY don’t know half the people on my street back home. I noticed this strong sense of community again when visiting two rural communities at the base of a volcano. Although these trips were completely separate, each time the families in and around the site where we were had representatives with various roles take part of the development talks and conversations going on. What I learned from these trips was that each family is a part of and plays a role in the development of the community. They are all in it together for better or for worse and hold weekly meetings to discuss problems, successes, answer questions, etc. Sure, their communities may be smaller and there are fewer families, but not one person is more important than another. International aid and development, from what I’ve learned, revolves around discussion and truly is a learning process from both ends. To get anything done and to see real change takes time—and lots of it but when people are in it together the outcome is truly beautiful!
Con mucho amor y bastantes besos,
Victoria Meskers ’17