I feel very much like a spoiled child. In a way, I am. Families chosen for training sites of volunteers have intense training themselves. They cook for us and clean. Often they have had other volunteers before and are quite skilled on the differences and preferences of Americans coming to a new country. That is so not the case for the families in site. They have no training, merely offered pay and confirmed to have a bed, clean space and presented with a two month contingency. After 2 months, if I want, I can leave to a new house or apartment, whatever fits my preferences and needs. My preferences aren’t to live alone but I cannot deny I have gotten used to my Nica mom in Niquinohomo. I know this new home will take time. I’m just not sure how to teach someone the things my training mom already knew. I can tell I am going to lose weight again. I can tell because I’m so picky and refuse to eat things I don’t like. Which sucks because I hate telling my new mom I don’t like what she cooked. I also hate throwing food away and she so clearly wants to make me happy. I want to cook for myself but don’t know how to make Nica dishes. There isn’t instant rice or a microwave here. I don’t have my usual arsenal of tools. There’s so much I don’t know, all this and a new site, new job, new people and new language is enough to make anyone lose weight! I have to find a tutor as well, to take classes 2 times a week, for 2 hours, for 3 months to ensure I improve. Then there’s no wifi sooooo my support network in the States is pretty unreachable right now. This is turning into a complaint rant so let me focus on the good things. I love my new siblings! They’re nice and talk to me despite the difficulty understanding. I love my new room. It’s big and I have a hammock as well as a bed! I think I like my town, I don’t know much about it right now except that it offers a lot of art. I like my sitemates, although neither of them are here right now, I know we’re going to be good friends. I met them two weeks ago. Good things come to those that wait.. I shall be patient in this new endeavor and my adjustments.
Training is over. The giant, impossible, daunting task.. is complete. I feel weird. Why? Because I am stuck in this sense of limbo. Although I have sworn in, I did not make the required Spanish level to leave my site so I am in my training site for one more week. Making me feel like I am still in training. It also makes me feel squirmy every time one of my awesome friends texts me to ask how my first day in site was… because I am not in my site. I recognize that greatness takes time and I am just waiting for my Spanish wings to take flight. In the meantime, I miss my friends. I also am not in love with the constant storms. Every day once during the day or night, the sky opens with loud thunder and shocking lightning. This is winter afterall, I was warned it would rain. I just was under the false ideal of rain from the perspective of an American. Rain here, is a collection of bowls and cups in my room catching leaks and temperatures dropping so low I sleep in my hoodie. It also involves flooding and my bed being quite wet. If it´s happening midday, I run the risks of molded clothes that haven´t finished drying. Winter, putting it mildly kinda sucks. I haven´t left my house in days. But I´m thankful. More time with my family is time well spent. I don´t want to say goodbye.
I knew this day would come… the day where we all have to say “see you later” and go our separate ways. Although it isn’t goodbye, it feels that way because Nicaragua is freaking huge! Well, it could always be bigger but 8 hours is no consolation prize. I hear that once you’re in the Peace Corps family, you’re in for life. I sincerely hope that to be true, because I don’t ever want to say goodbye to the people I have met so far. Knowing that, in my heart, by phone and occasionally at Peace Corp conferences I will see them again, helps this transition be a little easier. Here’s what 3 months in the life of a little aspirante trying to swear in looks like… To everyone of Nica 65.. it was a pleasure and I can’t wait to see you all again because please believe me, I plan to see everything Nicaragua has to offer, WHICH INCLUDES YOU!
“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” – Shirley Chisholm
People have asked me, “how did you know the Peace Corps was the right thing to do?” Basically, why am I so excited instead of being afraid. I suppose it’s the same way people say, “I knew he was the one.” You just know. It just feels right. When it’s God ordained, it just feels right. I am intentionally in purpose, on purpose. It just feels right. I have never let people force or guilt me into doing things I did not think was right for me. Yesterday, I was sworn in. Before, I was an aspirant, I was a PC in training, but now I am a true PC volunteer. I have passed every test. I have become a greater woman. Essentially, it’s like graduating boot camp. I have made it through the fire and am jumping right back into the flames. Although, I have been here and adjusted, Day one is actually when I get to my new site placement. I loved every moment I spent in Niquinohomo. I am sure I will visit again, but it’s time for me to say, “see you later.” Walking on, down the path, I know I am supposed to be on… into greatness. #don’tbelieveme #justwatch
When I first saw Nora I thought she was shy. Her demeanor was very chill. That all went out the window as soon we went to a party together. Nora is me. She is very chill and mellow but feisty, super goofy and can dance like nobody’s business! I wish she was in small biz sector because I want us to be besties. I see of little of myself in her. I can’t wait to learn more about her and hang out in the future. Get to know her, Ladies aand Gents.. Nora
BA Global Studies with a minor in Intercultural Peace Social Justice
From: New Jersey
Fun Fact: Nica 65 call me Black Magic and Pistola
Why did you join the PC? What did you family think about it?
I joined because I have a passion for helping others and I wanted to follow my passion, do something that made me happy but most importantly makes others happy, find intercultural opportunities and learn more about myself. My family is pretty used to me living out of the country. They are very supportive and have always showed me love as long as I’m happy, they’re happy. Was it something you knew you wanted to do for a while? First, it was a backburner and before coming I had a lot of doubts. I wanted to make sure that being a Peace Corps Volunteer didn’t mean pushing our capitalistic culture and way of life onto others. That is very important to me. That is not why I’m here. Throughout training, I realized it wasn’t. It’s about learning the people and working with the people and that’s exactly why I’m here. Even right up until I came, I had doubts because we didn’t really know what we were going to be doing.
Is this your first time outside of the US?
Nope. I studied Genocide Reconstruction in Kigali, Rwanda, Human Rights Foundations, Challenges and Advocacy in Nepal, Jordan and Chile in comparison with US, specifically in NY. I also worked at an international development firm in Costa Rica.
What were your expectations of Nicaragua?
I expected Nicaragua to be like CR but it’s very different. Costa Rica is more developed and the country relies heavily on tourism. They’re also more materialistic. Here it’s a really simple life, more down to earth. Of course, not everywhere, like in the Capital, Managua.
What are 5 Nica-isms you like?
1. Que vive el día. Soy una persona “que vive el día.” It means to live in the moment of everyday. Here they really take the time to get to know people. Spending time with people is not a waste of time. 2. The way people speak! I really like the way people speak here and the way people use emphasis when they speak. A lot of people here like to drag out their words. We don’t so that as much in English, but here its common to say “ y eeennnnntttoonces.” Speaking in Spanish sometimes is just so much more beautiful. 3. Transportation. In the states, I’m used to being on a subway. Nobody talks to each other and a lot of people are usually on their phones or reading a book. But here riding the bus is always an experience. People don’t necessarily talk to each other but there is always something to see! Like, maybe, this guy is having a weird conversation with someone on the bus, someone else is hanging from the ladder is in the back and jumping on and off the roof. You will have like 30 people squished on the bus and the guy collecting the money looks like he’s having the time of his life jumping on and off acting like he’s homies with everyone. 4. The sense of community. At first, it bothered me . everyone is so close and I felt like I was living in a fish in a bowl. There is a lot of chisme (gossip) but I found the people still really care about each other and will help you when they hear you need help. 5. Patience with outsiders. In the states if no one speaks English and are trying to order a sandwich, chances are the person taking the order is going to be rude and won’t have the patience to help. Here they want to help! Seeing us get better in Spanish gives them gratification.
What are 5 Nica-isms you don’t like?
1. The way men perceive women. I’m not sure yet, if it’s a cultural clash and I just can’t see it from the women’s perspective here. Or if they really don’t like it but don’t say anything because they’re used to it. (After thinking for like 20 minutes). I can’t think of anything else. I love it here. I love the food. I love the people. I love the heat.
What’s has been the hardest challenge so far?
Hardest so far was last Saturday night. I was in a situation with my host sister, at a hotel, where she works. There were gringos who had hired Nicaraguan prostitutes and I was caught translating in an unsafe situation. Moving forward, knowing I’m living where there’s a lot of tourism I’m interested in figuring out how to handle situations like this without putting myself in danger.
What famous person do you resemble?
I’ve gotten Amy Winehouse, Kim Kardashian, and Jasmine from Aladdin. But I’d rather just be Nora. What do you want to do after PC? I want to go back to school. I’m not sure what masters I want but I have some ideas.
If you could change into an animal, what would it be and why?
A pretty spider because a spider sees everything. They’re intuitive and observant and understand what’s going on around them.They can surprise you at any moment. Also, they’re super creative and can weave complicated, beautiful, intricate webs.
Ahhhhhh! It’s official! Been here 3 months. Graduation this Friday! I am too happy and I had a great day of shopping in Jinotepe. Since all that partying last night left me sore, I skipped Yoga and made today a lounge day. On the bus by 3 and home by 5. I ate and simply talked to my mom for hours. Just before 8 pm,I got a phone call asking me where I was. I said with great confusion, in my house. The person asked me.. because I live here? And was swiftly invited to a house party in honor of Mother’s Day and a birthday party! Ah, friends. How lovely of me to have some. Of course I was going but only with someone else from my town. My mom doesn’t let me go alone. She very much cares for my safety. The party was awesome! Nica’s love dancing. Highlight of the night: the uncle of the house saying, “I have never seen this many americans who can dance! You guys can really dance!” translation: White people can’t dance. He was hilarious. The cake was good. The piñata was exciting and all in all it was a night to remember for sure!
Ahh so tired but soooo happy. I did yoga with Jana yesterday. Its always better with someone else to assist and my soreness was a welcomed feeling. The club we went to was cool, would have been better without all the cigarette smoke! My lungs were not happy campers. It was hilarious though because literally everyone in there wanted to be our friend. Nica guys and girls danced alongside us to American and latino music. Then after much sleep and relaxation, I got my mani/pedi! I kept it simple this time because its for graduation. I don’t need loud nails with a very elegant dress. But in my near future I shall return for some nails that pop! I love the system here. The guy literally came to our house! I got both my hands and feet done in the living room while I read a book. It cost 100 Cordobas .. $4. I am content with the result and contributing to the economy. #goNae Considering most Nicaraguans live off less than $2 a day and don’t have steady income, i am happy to help when I can. How does one contribute to the economy of the second poorest country in the Americas? By shopping, that’s how! We went to the market. I saw the cutest skirt for $4 and couldn’t help myself. I was back in my site by 4 and very content with my weekend trip. I anticipate tonight will be filled with parades and bombas (fireworks without lights..just the noise) because mothers day is a huge holiday here. People don’t go to work and drink a lot! Im glad I got my box in time to give my mom her gifts! I cant wait to see what the topic will be in church tomorrow. I wonder if it will be centered around Jesus’ Mother.
It’s Friday! And literally the last day of training, as far as work is concerned. Today I do my last presentation and that’s it! We also get the holy grail of materials, the things we’ve only heard about up until this point. We now officially are one week from graduation and have the stuff that makes up PC gods. I am excited. Aside from being really nervous to have to do this entire three months all over again on my own and in a new place, I am devastated that I will be leaving my mom. Literally every time I go outside of my house, I am reminded that no one can touch her food. I can see I will be losing the 10 pounds I regained the last two months. What a tragedy. Im going to Jinotepe tonight, another town where the health volunteers live. We’re going to continue birthday celebrations for hailee and I am going to get a mani-pedi! Things to look forward to because the health girls ALWAYS have cute design on their nails. Don’t sleep on Nica nail salons, they are just as good if not better than the ones in the states. The ride to Jino was simply beautiful. Their towns are nestled in the groove of a mountain so literally on the way up, looking out the right and left windows you see nothing but clouds. It feels like im living a dream sometimes because Nicaragua is beautiful. Everywhere I look there is a postcard worthy picture. I don’t regret coming here one bit!