Today was a very emotional day to say the least. But the one thing that I will forever remember and be grateful for is the dancing at the final assembly. We practiced 3 dances all day today with the school’s dance team, as well as taught our buddies our 2 dances. It could not have been more fun. While all these girls were swaying across the dance floor (incredibly gracefully might I add) here we all are looking like football players trying to salsa. We laughed, screamed and overall created bonds I will never forget. Then, the time came when we presented our dances at the final assembly. We got to wear the traditional nicaraguan costumes, which are so beautiful and colourful. I wore this lovely white and light blue striped skirt and matching shirt. I’ve never loved an outfit more than I did this one. Our performance was amazing, not because we were these professional dancers, but because we were with each other and were having the most amazing time.
Today was our last day at the Diria Institute. In the morning, I was partnered with Ms. Liogas showing their technology teacher all of the donations that we had brought them. When we were opening up the robotics kits, the technology teacher went out and got three students so that I could demonstrate to them how to do it. As soon as I opened up the box, their eyes lit up and I could see how excited they were. I put the instruction book in front of them and let them start building and it was amazing seeing these girls building and problem solving together. At one point they had put one of the components on backwards and after one of them noticed, they worked as a team to fix it. Seeing these girls building a robot together and living an experience that Study girls also experience was just another demonstration of how similar we are. Our schools maybe be hundreds of miles apart and there are innumerable linguistic and cultural differences but at heart all kids are similar; curious and eager to learn and discover the most that they can.
Marcella Maria Da Silva
I haven’t met many people who cry as much as me. If you don’t know me, I am the ugliest crier in the world. Today, I was prepared to be laughed at by my buddy, for the obscene facial expressions I would make, as we left the school. As soon as the goodbyes started, Emelina burst into tears, her perfectly done dance makeup running down her face. I was shocked that she could be feeling so many emotions even though we had barely been able to speak to each other. We spent most of the week doing finger guns, “I’m watching you” fingers, fake ninja fighting and laughing at how bad I was at most of the activities. We developed this inexplicable bond. As soon as I received the card saying “friends are forever in the heart”, that’s when the waterworks started. It made me realize that no matter where or when, or how different our lives are, we will always be connected. As we got on the bus, she was sobbing in the arms of her friend. In that moment, I felt the friendship and the pure love between us. She went up to the window of the bus and we put our hands against the glass and just cried. It sounds cheesy, but it was a representation of how much we had left to do together. We got one final hug on the bus, probably the most emotional and best hugs I have ever received. It was raw emotion. Emelina and I were barely able to speak to each other but the bond we have is one for the ages.
Today was the last day at the Diria institute. When we were saying goodbye, a boy, who had met my sister two years ago on this trip, handed me a painting with the most beautiful rose I had ever seen. He also handed me a bracelet with my sisters’ name inscribed on it and asked me to give it to her. He had made her this painting and bracelet because even though Alex’s trip had only been a week, this boy felt such a strong connection to my sister that he still wanted to show her how appreciative he was of her friendship. It didn’t matter that they didn’t speak the same language or that they didn’t live in the same country, they were still able to build such a deep connection that two years later he still thought of her. In that moment I realized that the friendships we made here are forever and that I will be truly grateful for them.
At The Study, we teach our students that taking risks, trying something new and playing is THE way to learn. Today, my colleague Sarah Howard and I imparted that lesson to our Diria Institute science colleagues. This morning, we had the privilege to meet with 4 science teachers for a second science pedagogical session. It was supposed to be 30 minutes and lasted 2 and a half hours. What a fabulous gift of time! At first, like any student I’ve ever met, they were timid and would not even answer our questions. After they started to trust the process, they understood that in order to find answers, they needed to explore and try new things. In order for them to be able to take a risk trying, to feel vulnerable, trust needed to be established. They felt uncomfortable at first but eventually tried the experiments and learnt. The same could be said for our Study girls on the trip. Many members of our delegation broke down at various moments. Some wanted to hide their emotions from others and most importantly from themselves. It is easier to ignore uncomfortable feelings than to face them. No one likes to feel vulnerable. Yet, that is when most learning happens. It is only when we allow our raw emotions to come out that we begin to connect and process what we are learning. I challenge not only the students on the trip but also our readers to look at those feelings, question them and ask yourself what you could or even should do to change them. Change only occurs when we are uncomfortable with the status quo. After this visit to Nicaragua, I am confident that a new learning path has begun for us Canadians and many Diria Institute science students.