Sector: Small Biz
BS in Biology. Psychology. Chemistry. (3 Separate degrees)
Fun fact: I tried out for American idol.
I’ve always wanted to help people. I started a nonprofit when I was ten. Seeing its impact really affected my decision to take my service abroad. I really wanted to travel and I figured this would be the best way to do it and get work experience.
Is this your 1st time out of the US?
No. I have been to Ecuador to help with an orphanage and Mexico to visit family and vacation. But I want to go everywhere.
Do you speak any other language?
Yes. I speak French fluently. I think it’s easier learning Spanish, knowing French. But I also grew up hearing a lot of Spanish because I’m Mexican. So it helped having heard the words before. My parents don’t speak Spanish so I never actually learned.
What was your family’s reaction when you told them you were joining?
I have been telling them for like six years I was going to join. So they weren’t surprised. Some weren’t as supportive at first but once they were sure I wasn’t doing this on a whim, they were super supportive and awesome.
How are you liking Nicaragua?
I love Nicaragua! I think it’s a lot different than I was expecting. I was expecting mud huts and like no internet, just really underdeveloped. I have been absolutely pleasantly surprised. The people are super hospitable. In general, it’s a super nice culture.
What had been your top 5 best moments so far here?
1. Learning how to salsa and bachata 2. Going to Nica karaoke (it was freaking amazing with people dancing on tables!) 3. Eating and drinking with other PCVs 4. Celebrating my chikungunya recovery with an entire pizza 5. Getting to know my training town. Just walking down the street and having everyone know who I am and why I’m here. I feel so popular.
How is it dating a Nicaraguan man? Is there a comparison to dating a man from the states?
I wouldn’t know, this is my first real boyfriend. Umm I would say it’s an adventure. I’ve had to get used to a lot of cultural differences and nonverbal communication styles. For instance, the nose scrunch. At first, I had no idea what he was doing. I would be talking and he would scrunch his nose. I was concerned I smelled but now I know it means he doesn’t understand what I’m saying. Also the lip pointing. He would ask me how I was doing and then to clarify he would point his lips at me. I can’t always understand what he’s saying and meeting his family was really stressful for that reason. It has gotten a lot better and I feel like I’ve interacted so much better because of that. They’re also very touchy in general and we had to talk about that.
Do you have any concerns for living here?
I think it varies day by day. I’m really excited to be here but then to look forward and get really anxious knowing its two years of my life. I feel really great about everything.
What are you looking forward to in the next two years?
I’m really excited to find my niche in my community and make a really good group of Nica friends. And learn how to dance!
What are your plans after PC?
Medical school and live in a tiny house. Have you seen them? It’s going to be so cozy and save the world and cheap!
How do you feel about training in business sector when your work experience is better suited to health?
At first, I was kinda disappointed but then I visited my site and realized how many opportunities I’d have to integrate my health knowledge into my work. So now I’m ok with it… más o menos.
Did you believe in Santa as a kid? Do you still believe in Santa?
Believed as a kid? Umm yes. Hell yes. I freaking love Christmas and I start celebrating like in July. I believe in spirited Santa. Like the spirit of giving. My little brother is 7 and he believes right now too. So I always encourage it.
What do you wish when you blow out your candles on your birthday cake?
Hmmm. I always wish I could fly even though I know that’s not going happen.
What is one thing you wish you had from the US here?
Body pillow without a doubt!
Yesterday we went to the schools we worked to personally thank the directors and principals. We also wrote a letter Spanish to keep on file. Today we took our security exam and processed all our site info. Tomorrow we’re going to do ready to service presentations and I’m a little jaded. There 15 mins each. I hope everyone does something really creative. I also received a huge box from my mom. It’s mostly filled with gifts for my Nica mom. Deshell finally joined me in the Box Club. We celebrated. ☺️
Counterpart day. This is the day I would usually get to meet some or all of the people I’ll be working with but because of miscommunication and the national celebration of sandino the day was moved and hardly anyone showed. Which works for me because I’m starting to feel sick. I spent about three hours in the medical office and she let me sleep! God bless that sick bed I needed some rest. I wanted to stay longer but my boss told the nurse I had to come back. I left with a bag full of meds. I have to take 7 things daily for the next two weeks. We had presentations for the rest of the day clarifying counterpart and PCVs relationships then we were free to relax. Relax we did. I ended up not going to bed until 2 am because of a random impromptu yoga session. Two PCVs were sore and I insisted yoga was the answer. I was right. Looking forward to traveling tomorrow. My day started at 5:45am.. Who needs sleep right?
I feel worse. I wish I was staying in Managua. I don’t want to go anywhere. I woke with no problems but my ear nose and throat hate me right now. I was told total travel one way is 4.5 hours. So I set off on the bus at 6:45 am. At 9 I got off at a gas station because the man said it was the last stop. It took me about 15 minutes to realize I was not at a bus terminal and it was unbearable hot. The trees of niquinohomo clearly don’t exist here. I waited about 45 minutes for another bus with my towns name on it. Hopped on and prayed to God no one would steal my luggage from underneath the bus. The very cute bus man insisted he wouldn’t allow that to happen. I finally pulled up a little before noon and my sitemate was waiting for me. I literally live right across the street from her. She introduced me to my family. My moms name is Josefa and my dads name is Jesus. I met my sister and two brothers. I like them a lot! They have me a book to read outloud to help with my pronunciation while they did homework. One is going to college, the other is in 10th grade. I’m not sure what the oldest does. I only met him briefly. We have two rabbits named brownie and sugar, the English words, not the translation. We have three parrots. I got to hold one on my finger! And the best part NO ROOSTERS!! That’s right we don’t have a one. I was so happy about that. Literally God has smiled on me. My room is big, way bigger than my old room but it doesnt have any furniture except my bed so I’ll be using my readjustment stipend for that, or tap into the PCVs that are about to leave.
I feel like I’m about to die. I’m so sick I’m debating going to Managua to be looked at instead of staying to enjoy my site. The doctor ore called my sitemate and told her to get me a specific type of medicine. I only left my bed to go to the bathroom and eat. Fingers crossed the meds work. My mom called me from the states and couldn’t understand a word I was saying. I sound like a chain smoker met a nasal relief commercial.
Sweet relief. I’m not even close to 100% but the hardest part is behind me. I CAN BREATHE!! Today I will meet the nearest small biz volunteer. He lives about an hour and a half away. He’s coming to my school to give a charla to all my counterparts. What are the odds?! #blessed I met all five of my counterparts. My favorite so far is Gioconda. I just love saying her name. He-own-con-duh. Since I didn’t meet them on counterpart day I exchanged my Nica resume and got their class schedules. They seem nervous about my abilities. Thank goodness I’m not. Afterwards I was exhausted so back to bed I went. Today was a very productive day though.
I’m still resting but my sitemate just told me she’s having a book club with youth tonight. Literally nothing but death could keep me away. They’re reading I Am Mataglpa. Story of a young woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban. They were asking questions and during the discussion it became clear they didn’t know what the Holocaust was. I explained it and who Anna Frank was .. All in Spanish. You can’t tell me nothing about my Spanish today. Not one word because I’m on fire today. It’s definitely something I’m going to continue when she leaves I promise!
Time to go. It’s truly been lovely but I shall return in two weeks.. If all goes well. My family sent me off well and I felt quite productive once I confirmed how much my rent was, how much to have my clothes washed and my furniture situation. Thankfully my site mate is traveling with me a little ways and then I met another volunteer in Managua. We talked in Spanish the whole time. Another Spanish win! I’m glad to be back home. Although my room is so much smaller there is wifi and my mom can really cook! Sigh.. I’m going to miss it here.
Sector: Small Biz
From Traverse City, Michigan
BA Political Science, Beloit College MA International Development, Western Michigan University
Fun Fact: I don’t have many fun facts, but an interesting fact is that I’m a very experienced tractor driver
I didn’t really decide that I wanted to join the Peace Corps until my senior year of college- I had been pursuing a political science degree for four years at that point, but did not realize until my final semester that my capacity to serve as an elected official or bureaucrat was limited. That being said, I was still very passionate about public service. Prior to attending college I had lived much of my life outside the United States and was very interested in exploring new cultures and countries- Peace Corps provided me an opportunity to combine those interests. Four years and one degree later, here I am! Living the dream.
What were you doing before PC? Does it relate to what you’re doing now?
Immediately before I shipped out I was unemployed and was not doing much of anything, but before that I was pursuing a Master’s Degree in International development. Of course, working with Peace Corps is a perfect follow up to that program, especially as it relates to the role of capital development in growing economies.
Did you have an expectations abut Nica? Is Nica living up to those expectations (if you had any)
I had tried very hard to avoid building up expectations for Nicaragua, since it seemed like I would only be setting myself up to be disappointed (insofar as it would be difficult to form any specific vision, no matter how modest, that would be representative of the country as a whole). All I wanted to do was learn the language, meet cool people, and experience a new culture, and thus far this experience has exceeded those expectations.
Is this your first time out of country? if now where have you been?
My first time out of the country was in 1996, when I moved to India with my family. Since then I have lived in one other country (Indonesia) and have had the opportunity to travel to countries throughout Asia (Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Nepal, Singapore), Europe (Germany, England, Holland), the Middle East (Oman, the U.A.E.), and South America (Colombia).
What’s one thing that surprised you about Nica?
I didn’t come with many expectations, but I was definitely not prepared for how beautiful Nicaragua is- trees, beaches, volcanoes, lagunas, all of it is amazing.
So far, favorite memory of NIca?
That’s a difficult question, in just two months I’ve already made a lot of fantastic memories. One of the best would be climbing the Volcan de Masaya with a group of volunteers. Brutal walk, but well worth it. (See photo above.)
Now that you know where your site can you tell me what your first thoughts were/are?
Excitement! I’m sorry to be so far away from so many of the friends that I’ve made during training but working in Nueva Guinea will be a great opportunity- the service there fits my priorities like a glove, and I’m excited to start exploring jungle.
if you have to, do you think you can live without the internet?
Haha eventually! I love the internet, but I can learn to do without almost anything given enough time.
You can only listen to 3 CD’s for the rest of your life, what are they?
My Dark Twisted Fantasy (Kanye) Demon Days (Gorillaz) The Wall (Pink Floyd)
When your envision yourself after these 2 years are finished what do you see? (describe yourself or use a few descriptive words)
Well you can’t really see these things, but I hope to be more resourceful, more resilient, and more adaptive.