This morning we visited the church in Diria. Before the mass started, Emily and I met some kids in the park beside the church. We had little toys to give out to the children. They were knit dolls and when we handed them out, the four little who had approached us kids were so happy. It was absolutely heartwarming to see how much these gifts meant to them. We then had a few moments to play games with them in the park. They were such sweet, funny kids who would laugh at almost any face we made. When I asked if I could take pictures of them, they were ecstatic. They all wanted to be in the pictures together and they were even more excited when I showed them the pictures we had taken together. It was really nice to see how such a small gesture can go a long way. I am so happy to have met those 4 kids today because it was nice to see that even though they didn’t speak any English, and we don’t speak much Spanish, we were still all able to have fun and communicate in other ways.
Today we drove to a beautiful, gazebo-type building, surrounded by a breathtaking view. This is where we decorated the room for our luncheon with the past and present scholarship recipients and their families. Putting a face to the names we’ve been hearing about for so long and finally meeting them was beyond rewarding. Having the chance to speak with them about their lives, their families and their experiences as women studying in a male-dominated university was really eye-opening. Emily, Lily and I were paired with Belkis, who we quickly bonded with over our love for Disney Channel, Hannah Montana and One Direction. It was really heartwarming being able to just talk to one another and see how they are like us in many ways. They were all so kind and bright and you could tell how passionate they each were about their individual fields, not to mention how much they wanted to share their knowledge with us. I am honoured to have been able to meet them and can’t wait to keep hearing about their success in life.
This morning’s event was attending a traditional Sunday mass in Diria. At first, to be honest, I was not the most excited camper as I am not one who goes to church, but also the thought of not understanding anything for an hour straight was not too motivating. However, right as we walked into this church (a really beautiful one might I add) there was music, plenty of locals, and all in such a positive vibe that it was hard to not be engaged. It was so interesting to see how religion plays such a huge role in these people’s lives, and how no matter what, they can all count on coming together and rejoicing for that hour on Sundays. During the service, the priest was entertaining the children (which was quite amusing for all of us), the people were so nice by simply smiling at us (as we were clearly not regulars), and even though I did not understand most of what was being said, I can say with full honesty that I 110% enjoyed myself, and am so grateful to have had that glimpse into the lives of these Nicaraguan people.
One of the many things we did today was visiting a village that specializes in pottery. To learn more about the pottery industry, we visited Elsa who welcomed all 23 of us in her home. She told us that before starting her own pottery business, she worked with a group of other talented women. They sold their work to a middle man who then sold it for much more money than Elsa was being paid. She and the other women were being taken advantage of. One day, there was a group of American women who helped show her that she could sell her pottery directly and earn her rightful share of money, instead of the middle party making all the profit. She listened to the Americans and started her own business. With this, she was able to send her five children to university. Her oldest daughter is now a professor at a university. She showed us how to make pottery, and it turned out to be actually quite hard. Overall, meeting Elsa and hearing her inspirational story will stay with me forever.