Taking the mattress to the base of the mountain.
Bernarda’s father and brother carrying the mattress to their home.
Starting the walk to Bernarda’s home
Talking with Bernarda at her home
Bernarda showing us her Bachelor’s degree.
The mattress in Bernarda’s mother’s room.
Photos of the group with Bernarda and her family.
Going down the mountain.
The students practicing traditional Nicaragua dances.
The baseball team showing off their new equipment.
Ms. Howard’s science class.
The students with scholarship winner Geysel.
Maria Jose showing us the 97% she got on a recent report.
The students with scholarship winner Maria Jose.
Wednesday morning we walked up the mountain with our buddies to Bernarda’s house, in order to give her ailing mother a mattress. She used to sleep on a piece of wood, and we thought this needed to change because her diabetes is worsening; she’s losing her sight and also lost a few toes. Before walking up with the buddies, I was scared that the communication barrier would thwart the development of our relationship, but as we walked up the mountain, we seemed to be getting closer and closer. I was scared certain jokes are amusing only in certain cultures, or conversation topics vary from country to country, but soon I learned that they laugh, talk and cry about the same things as me. As we took more and more steps up the hill, some risky, some stable, I began to know myself better, and I also could appreciate their culture with a more aware perspective. For them, silence isn’t something they would term as “awkward.” They smile with a carefree look, laugh despite all the hardships they must brave everyday, and their smile speaks with vibrant colors. In fact, I soon realized that having dirty floors, or fruit left out in the open, represents one of the many difficulties they need to face, but for them, its something they are used to waking up to, or going to sleep to. When we finally arrived a Bernarda’s house, sweaty and tired, we were welcomed as always, with a warm sunny smile. “Our home is your home,” they always tell us. We were then given a tour of the house, and that’s when I realized how glad I was that Ms. Liogas bought the mattress. Bernarda’s mom’s old bed, a hard piece of wood in a room with very little walking space available, was in no way adequate to satisfy her growing and increasingly urgent medical needs. Before we resumed our long trek down the hill, Bernarda spoke a few words to give us advice. The main gist of her message was to focus on our studies, because this is what is most important in our life right now, and it does not make us boring.
Today was a very eventful day for me as there was certainly one event that stood out the most. The walk to Bernarda’s house with our buddies is definitely a memory I will forever keep in my heart, as it was an amazing bonding experience with my buddy and to visit Bernarda herself. Ivette, my buddy, shared with me a story of her father who, fourteen years ago, lost both of his kidneys and was very close to death. Thanks to her uncle, he was able to receive one kidney that saved his life. I was truly touched by her story because without the generosity of her uncle, Ivette’s father wouldn’t be with us on this earth today. It made me think hard as how sacrifices to some may be life saving to others and many people in first world countries do not realize this like the people in Nicaragua do. Despite hearing this heart-wrenching story, I got to know the caring side of Ivette as each time when I would slip she would immediately grip my arm and tell me to be careful. When I would be too close to an edge she would bring me to the farther side and put herself in my place. We have developed such a unique bond despite our language barrier and it has made me realize that actions are more important than words. When there is nothing to say I point to an object and ask how to say it in Spanish as she gladly replies and I teach her the word in English. Not only is this educational but it is helping us connect and form such a wonderful bond. It will be a very bittersweet moment when Ivette and I will have to part ways as I know it will most likely be my last time seeing her. Yet I know I have left an imprint on her life and she definitely has left one on mine.
After lunch at Dr. Perez’s home we returned to the Diria Institute. We were told that we were going to teach before arriving at the school, but unfortunately for us non- dancers, a surprise was awaiting us. Once we finally settled in, we were told to wear the traditional Nicaraguan dancing skirts. We then began to start learning dances at quite a rapid pace. I think I can speak for all of us and say that it was far too difficult for our skill level. Not only were we nervous to begin the dancing, most of the school started to crowd around the agora making our anxiety skyrocket! Despite having over 50 people watching us dance (not so gracefully might I add), we all had an amazing time learning traditional Nicaraguan and African based dances and trying to move our hips in ways they’ve never moved before. After what seemed like forever, we finally got a chance to show them our dance. They really enjoyed learning the Whip/Nae-Nae because it seemed like they had already heard of the song before. The students seemed happy to learn a little bit of our culture and we certainly enjoyed getting to know a little bit of theirs.
Lisa, Alex, Samantha, Elizabeth, one of our buddies and I volunteered to try a traditional Nicaraguan folk dance, with six of the boys from the Diria Institute. Thinking that everyone was going to try it, we were all quite excited. However, we then later found out that the six of us were the only ones trying it, and were going to perform the dance in front of the entire school on Friday. Let’s just say that we were all about to faint. The five of us were completely scared and felt kind of vulnerable because all eyes would be on us – not to mention, messing up the traditional dance would be even more embarrassing. Some of us are not really used to having all eyes on us, as well as we had boys who knew what they were doing trying to help. Unfortunately, that made most of us feel extremely vulnerable. Once we finished attempting to learn the dance, we were so sweaty. It was pretty disgusting, but nonetheless, it was a new experience and not an entirely bad one at that.