Julia Montoya ’20, Nicaragua –
And just like that, seven weeks of my life have melted away in the Nicaraguan heat, and just one remains. When I look back on this experience, all of the memories blur into a montage of moments. As these weeks have wound down into days I find myself overcome with waves of excitement every time I think of home. But with those waves of excitement also come pangs of sadness. Yes, I’ve been fantasizing about taking my first hot shower in two months, and I know my body will thank me after I wean myself off of gallo pinto and queso frito. But at the same time, I’m going to miss speaking Spanish the majority of the day, and I’m especially going to miss the little hands that pound on my door and the little voice that shouts “Abri me” each morning the second I turn the light in my room on.
I’m excited to return home to my family in the United States, but that was always guaranteed and always will be guaranteed no matter where in the world life takes me. But I was not prepared for these people who I shared a house with for seven weeks to become family. And I know leaving them is going to be the hardest part. I’ve become closest with my host sister, Itzel. When I’m reclused away in my room typing away at some piece of work, she brings me back down to earth by nagging me to play with her. While I typically groan and protest at first, I know that when I look back on this experience, I’m going to remember coloring and having dance parties with my little sister. I’m not going to remember how good that one sentence from that one paragraph was.
Because of scheduling conflicts, I was not able to teach as many English classes as expected with my counterpart. While I felt discouraged at first, I decided to take matters into my own hands and use the materials I had prepared for my English classes to teach my host sister. After practicing day after day, although I wasn’t able to teach a classroom full of children, I was definitely able to impart some English knowledge unto my host sister. She really enjoyed learning and began to think of it more as a game. She also took great pride in being able to name animals with better accuracy than her older cousin who had been learning English in school.
They say home is where the heart is, and as cliche as it is, I know I will leave a piece of my heart here in Nicaragua. It’s strange to me to think that if I choose to, I could go the rest of my life without ever hearing from or seeing my host family ever again, but I’m determined to not let that happen. I’m grateful for this opportunity to spend two months in Nicaragua, but I know my service in this beautiful country is just beginning.