February 28, 2024

Waking up 10 minutes earlier to walk to school is not my favourite activity. However, today I learned of the journeys most students who attend the Diria Institute must trek to get their education each weekday, and it has changed me. We had the opportunity to try to understand the length of one graduate’s walk in particular. Angela Patricia Dominguez Barrios, resides in rural areas. For our sake, we were only instructed to complete around 45 minutes of her walk, which is only a small portion. However, there was a change of plans, and we were only to walk 5-10 minutes. To reach the starting location of our little route, we picked up our buddies and drove for nearly 30 minutes. The ride itself was super enjoyable since we worked the language barrier with the help of Sophie (who is an excellent translator!) and we got to share our common interests such as music tastes and celebrity crushes. It was a good reminder that teenagers are all pretty much the same, regardless of their living situations or cultures. But these happy emotions dissolved pretty quickly once we started the walk. The sunshine sent droplets of sweat down my back within a few steps. I walked with a water bottle in my hand that was soon emptied. We arrived and our hosts were wonderful. However, I was so taken aback by the distance the scholarship winner had to parkour on the daily and how little we ended up walking that I could hardly focus. I was truly marked by her resilience to wake up and return home in the absence of light in order to gain her education. It made me rethink my attitude towards all the privilege I have, including my wake-up time. I am fortunate enough to only have to walk a couple hundred meters to attend my private school. I had access to as much bottled water as I want for the little bit of the walk she had to complete without such luxuries. It is, to me, impossible to comprehend the amount of effort these Nicaraguan kids must put towards just reaching the institution that is mandatory by law to attend. Especially since their commutes are done without all the nutrients I get to consume at will. Also, our planned trip was much shorter, and I believe it was not enough for us to think we can grasp the situation of this girl and others alike. This feeling is even more engraved since we would have been fully capable of completing the 45 minutes (which isn’t even close to the whole thing she had to do every. Single. Day. For 5 YEARS!) because we had a filling breakfast and are fortunate to be in good health. After this experience, I will no longer experience waking up early to get to school without thoughts of the hardship others my age face for the same purpose infesting my mind.

Lausanne K

We had lunch today with Candeleria, one of the scholarship winners. She spoke to us about her journey after graduating university where she studied finance and banking. Ava’s family had funded this scholarship, so it was particularly nice since they got to meet. Even if meeting her was a great experience, hearing about her family and living situation was difficult. We learned that she is having difficulty in finding a job, but we are planning on providing additional support to her to facilitate the process. We then went back to the school and got ready to learn traditional Nicaraguan dancing from our buddies. Before starting, I was definitely nervous to embarrass myself. However, I surprisingly felt very comfortable as time went on and it ended up being my favourite part of the day. I found it so fun to be able to learn about a new culture, through dance, that I previously knew very little about. I’m also glad to have experienced it with such supportive teachers. We then taught them a traditional Quebecois folk dance that we had learned back in Montreal. After that we were enjoying the dancing so much that we showed them some additional popular dances like the Cotton Eye Joe, Footloose and many others. We spent around 3 hours dancing and we were all drenched in sweat by the end of it. It was really special to be able to share our cultures with each other and bond in the process.

Alaina M

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