so upperclass

10:05 AM Marcie Parson 0 Comments

I'm a junior. How in the world did that happen?


soy nica ¿y qué?

9:08 PM Marcie Parson 0 Comments

Buckle your seat belts. This is going to be a long one.

People keep asking me what the best part of Nicaragua was. Do you realize that's just like asking me how living in the Holy Land for 4 months was? "Incredible" doesn't do it justice. It's impossible to describe, and it's impossible to pick just one "best" part of the whole experience.

Volunteering for HELP International in Nicaragua for 6 weeks was eye opening. I learned so much from and connected with a culture that was unfamiliar to me. I began to learn what development work was all about, and I experienced firsthand the challenges that come along with it. I made meaningful relationships with the people there, and most importantly, I was able to leave my mark in the form of sustainable development projects. At the beginning of the trip I was worried that I wouldn't be able to measure my success and that I'd never know if I was making a difference or not. Upon completing my projects, I feel like I successfully "did good" while I was there and know that was exactly where I was supposed to be.

The last few weeks in Nicaragua felt like a whirlwind of wrapping up projects. Julia and Cheryl taught a nursing seminar at the HEODRA Hospital. Charlie finished his dance classes. Cheryl led our group in conducting needs assessments for future HELP teams. English classes ended with a graduation party. The bottle school was completed, and keys were handed over at a ribbon cutting ceremony. Julia and I personally handed out 50 water filters and replacements to the community of El Tamarindo. Megan and Amanda somehow managed to keep us all alive through our "7 days of happiness" as we stressed over the completion of our projects and all of the paperwork that went along with it.

I have two go-to answers when someone asks me what the best part of Nicaragua was. The first is the feeling of handing a water filter to a young mother and her children, knowing there is a brighter future for them because of what you've done. Nothing beats that. Upon distributing the first round of water filters in El Tamarindo, we walked up the dark streets to the bus stop, and Salome pointed out a water filter in someone's front room. As we continued walking up the street, we could glimpse through front windows and see our water filters surrounded by their new proud owners. It was easily one of the proudest moments in my life.

The second is our graduation for our English classes. Even though I jumped in as a teacher halfway through the summer, I loved those students. I never expected to love teaching beginning English so much, in fact I was certain I would do a horrible job at it. I was surprised week after week when I could see how hard some of the students worked, and they began to progress. This project became one of my favorites because I could see the immediate results of our efforts. At graduation, two of the students gave speeches that brought me to tears. I was so proud of them.

After wrapping up our projects, we spent the last few days in Nicaragua saying goodbyes to our friends and then took off to spend the weekend on a hammock at the beach. It doesn't get much better than that. It just doesn't.

To conclude, here's a little list of things I take for granted in the States (compiled solely because I lived without them for 6 weeks):
  • Washing machines & dryers
  • Hot water
  • Clean water
  • Water pressure
  • Air conditioning
  • Stop lights
  • Carpet
  • Microwaves & toasters
  • Dishwashers
  • Seatbelts
  • Garbage disposals
  • Post-it-notes
  • Reliable snail mail
  • Screens for doors & windows
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Absence of kissy noises
  • Public trashcans
  • Clean hospitals/ambulances
  • Paved roads

You better believe the first thing I did when I got back was wash my laundry in a washing machine. God bless the inventor of the washer and dryer.