The time has finally come and I can’t believe I am only a week away from being in Nicaragua. It has definitely been a long journey even before the journey down south. Through taking LACS 20 and being part of CCESP, I have learned more about Nicaragua, volunteerism, and myself. Below I have outlined the top 5 takeaways from this term in preparation for my trip to Nicaragua:
- Want what the people want, not what the outsiders want. After our discussion of the potential Nicaraguan Canal, I realized that although things sometimes look good on paper, we should not impose our own thoughts and beliefs on others, especially those with their own country and culture. Whether or no we like the canal or not, it is up for the people of Nicaragua to decide, not us, since they are the ones who will live with it in their backyard.
- Don’t be afraid to speak. An important skill I have learned from LACS 20 is to pose questions and interact with people to learn more about a culture and its customs. After learning to and practicing conducting oral history, I feel more confident in approaching people to learn more about themselves as human beings and what they believe.
- Realizing that education should be engrained in service. Before LACS 20, I thought I was going on a regular service trip, helping the community and doing what most people call community service. However, I now realize that the learning process is a huge part of the program and we a Dartmouth students can very well learn a lot more from the Nicaraguans than vice versa. I prefer to think of the trip as an educational experience because I do not fully believe we are simply “helping” them.
- Explore my passion within service. Through my final project on chocolate, I realized that it is possible to connect one’s interests and passion with service. I never expected to learn so much about chocolate in a class on Nicaragua but I am glad that I had the opportunity to explore a topic I was excited about and connect back with service.
- Have fun. I realized that I can get the most out of the experience if I just have fun. Often times we are inundated with work and are focusing too much on the technical aspects but if we take a break to breathe and simply have fun with what we are doing, the experience at the ends feels so much more rewarding and the memories will truly last a lifetime.