Dirt floors, tin bucket showers and outdoor latrines. There I stood a foreigner to a La Chimpanilla, Nicaragua, a microcosm of the truth about worldwide poverty – a village with beautiful faces, anxious smiles, and welcoming arms. Each moment assimilated in my eyes: mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, elders, children, and babies; a family and a community as one. Each and every one of them looked up to me, and I knew I couldn’t disappoint them.
Cerulean skies down to mountain peaks, banana trees to sugar cane, coffee plants and black beans; evanescent beauty swallowed me whole, as one small village became an entire new world to me. I had come to La Chimpanilla with my fellow “buildOn” members to give a future to those children – a future each and every one of them rightfully deserves regardless of gender or age. A future no amount of money can buy, education- priceless.
This community was now my family, no matter the color of their skin or the language they spoke, I adapted. A family of assorted colors, accents, and origins – yet a family all the same. Together we put forth our most astounding effort to build La Chimpanilla a school. Love introduced me to an intrinsic source of passion, pleasure, and valued work. In return that love challenged my strength and perseverance; but soon it granted me the power to change lives. This school held the key that unlocked the poverty that chained them, and I had to help set them free.
However, I didn’t give them nearly as much as they gave me. My host family welcomed me, a stranger, into their home. Selflessly giving me food to eat, a place to sleep, and ultimately they gave me their culture, something I could never give them in return. La Chimpanilla transformed me to have a new outlook on the world, outside the boundaries of the USA. Acculturation defined me; I was limitless – a place that had once only been a dot on the map to me became an entire macrocosm. Nicaragua gave me a second mother, and another grandmother, and three brothers who loved me unconditionally as their own. Nicaragua is a piece of me that no one can ever take away; the value of love. Love that formed its own entity, and allowed me to understand that no matter the language, communication is beyond words.
Nicaragua became a second home to me. Today, an airplane ride separates me from that home, but my heart has never left.
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