Monday, August 25, 2014

My Global Glimpse Journey

2 weeks into the trip and still smiling

This will be my final post about my Global Glimpse trip to Nicaragua, not because I don’t want to share more, but because I know with the impending school year quickly approaching, other obligations will present themselves as greater priorities. With that said, the day before we left to return back to the U.S., we had the students create these journey maps that walked you through some of the highlights of their “Global Glimpse” journey. After the 5 students I was sitting with got done sharing their maps, they asked me where mine was. I was a touched but also unprepared. I didn’t think they’d want to know my story and therefore I hadn’t made one. Until now; it isn’t beautiful and artistic, (I didn’t draw it out like my students.) but it is my Global Glimpse journey all the same.
Nicaragua, the beautiful
This journey/map has 4 parts: my five most significant moments, the most important lesson I learned about life, the most important lesson about leadership, and a description of the person I found most inspirational. Here we go…ENJOY!
5 most significant moments (from when I agreed to go- all the way to the present):
1. Deciding to go last August. I committed a year in advance and I can remember my excitement as I discussed the prospect of going on this trip with Eliza (the Executive Director of GG) on the phone as I sat on the windowsill in my kitchen. I never could have imagined then how powerful and incredible the trip would be, but I’m glad I agreed to the unknown only to have it turn out awesome!
Discussion is the new multiple-choice
2. Our workshops throughout the year, I have always been so explicit with my lecture teaching style but the workshops I did with my students throughout the year over topics like leadership, culture, poverty, aid/development, and history were all taught through Discussion-based techniques. This was a crucial skill to learn as a teacher. I hope to incorporate more discussion and Socratic seminar style processes in my science classes now.
We actually walked around and practiced our Spanish after eating these.
3. This next one is from the trip. On the day the students had the reality challenge, “Living like a Local,” the kids stayed with rural families and did chores and worked around the house with their hosts. Sarah (the other GG leader) and I could have just sat at the town leaders house eating mangos all morning, (they were delicious) but instead we wanted to explore and see what our students were working on. We walked around the small village of Iquisi with our limited Spanish, interacting with locals, finding where our students were working despite the language barrier. It was an adventurous morning.

The dream (leadership) team
4. Another significant moment on the trip was when I was deathly ill (or it at least felt that way at the time. It was just a 12 hour stomach virus, that still to this day my guts are rumbling from, but anyway), and being the control freak that I can be at times, was completely and utterly confident in Sarah’s (and Jose’s…this student spoke excellent Spanish as well as Denis and Melida to come to our rescue if we absolutely needed them) ability to handle the students for the day that I was out. Letting go is a big thing for control-freak people, like me so having Sarah to count on made all the difference.

Coconuts: practically celebratory.
5. This significant moment can actually be broken into four smaller moments. See, I would consider myself a non-public-displays-of-emotion kind of person. And well, it isn’t just that I don’t tend to be very emotional, but I tend to feel awkward and not always know what to do when others get emotional. There were 4 times during this trip when I overcame this challenge of avoiding the emotion in life. The first time was the first night. At 3 in the morning, Sarah came and woke me up, (Keep in mind; I’d been up for 24 hours before I’d gone to bed at 11pm that night, so I was extremely tired). Apparently, one of the girls was nauseous and not feeling well and wanted to go home. My first instinct was to want to tell this girl, to get it together (my sleep-deprived self at play here), but instead, Sarah, the girl, one of her friends and I had a middle-of-the-night pow-wow where we ate pretzels from the U.S. and talked about how it can be really hard being in a new place. By the end of the trip, that particular student made a map about how impactful and life-changing this trip had been for her.

Keeping a smile on your face is easy in a hammock.
Another student missed the biggest holiday of his religion by being on the trip, him and I sat in the parking-lot that night and I asked him lots of questions about what the holiday was like at his house to ease his home-sickness. He thanked me before he went to bed, while still sad, he didn’t feel as homesick.
One of my students from WP, walked out of a nightly
We all made it through somoto canyon despite the falls.
meeting really upset. When I followed him and asked him what was going on, he told me he really missed his friend that passed away in November of this past year. We both sat there reminiscing. The friend had been a student of mine two years ago. We cried and laughed together imagining what the trip would be like had the passed student been a part of it.

Finally, there was a section of Somoto canyon that was particularly difficult for one of the girls. She kept falling and hurting her knee. About 100 meters from the end, she had fallen her last fall. “That’s it! I give up! I want to go home.” She cried. As the health coach, I soothed her tears and splinted her leg using my arms as me and one of the guides swam her to a boat. It was a 50 meter swim but I kept telling her she would be ok, she was tough; we were all going to get through it.
Dona Francesca, an inspiring woman
There were numerous other evening walks with students giving them advice, or tough conversations and creative solutions for wild emotions that made students want to punch through walls. I worked to keep cool through them and not run the other way. By the end of the trip, I actually really enjoyed being a social and emotional support for students. I’d have never guessed that about the logical, analytical, unfalteringly-emotionally-flat person that I can be sometimes. I even cried as I said goodbye to Dona Francesca.She was this incredible matriarch who had starved most her life to ensure that her children had food to eat and even then her whole situation existed in extreme poverty. After she spoke to the students, many hugs and tears were exchanged, her words and presence had had a profound effect on the kids. As I said, goodbye, I told her thank you for opening their eyes. But as I said it, I began to cry. The kids later told me that they were proud of me for allowing my emotion to come out. See, I wasn’t only supporting them; they were social-emotionally supporting me too.

Floating on a tube in Masaya Lagoon
Hiking through Somoto Canyon
6. Ok, ok… So I was only supposed to do 5, but I have to say that there were a few times on the trip that I got to reconnect with nature: kayaking out in the middle of Masaya Lagoon, hiking through Somoto Canyon, and walking around Selva Negra. Being a country girl, who lives in the city, reconnecting with beauties of the natural world, is extremely significant to me.

Greatest Lesson I learned:
If I am going to have a more positive outlook on life, I have to surround myself with positive people. Thanks Sarah and all of you awesome glimpsers!
My students: one big explosion of positive energy!

Greatest lesson learned about leadership:
Always be open and observant because there is always something to be learned from other people’s style of leading.

Painting the Parc de Infantile for our Community Action Project
One person that inspired me most:
A new leader with different views?
David Thompson, the founder of La Casita, a small café that provides homemade bread, jams, and yogurt with an outdoor eating space, a wide backyard with a playground for children, an organic garden, and a wood shop. What I admire about David is that he just did his thing with life and it grew organically (literally).  He didn’t force it. He created something for himself and his family and demand grew unprovoked. Sharing your knowledge, your way of life, leads to a better more fulfilling life than out-competing others to succeed. These are the ideologies that David lives by. He believed that if you are just being a good person who is passionate about your own thing for yourself because you love it, the world will open its arms to you and naturally others will want what you have. Just be. Don’t force life to happen a certain way. Use what you’ve got and do what you love. I found this way of thinking to be very inspiring.

Ok, well that’s it. This experience was an incredible journey. One I will never forget and I hope to share another journey with students and Global Glimpse again soon!
Milking a Cow at La Garnacha as my students look on my work.

1 comment:

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