Friday, September 11, 2015

Nos vemos

Today is my last day in the Asofenix office, and I am spending the day bringing closure to what has been one of the most fulfilling three months of my life. Last week was very emotional as I said goodbye to my family and friends within the community. I will always remember that week and the little acts of kindness that filled my stomach and heart. I will remember the care with which my host father wrapped up my boots to take with me, and sitting on a rice bag chatting with my host mother late into the night as she baked me cosas de horno to bring back with me. I will remember brushing my teeth the last night under the sparkling night sky to a chorus of barking from the neighborhood dogs. I will remember getting drenched in a thunderstorm while we hiked up the mountain to collect bright yellow berries called nalcites. I will remember the bright smiles of the children who came to play with me, and also their long faces as they begged me not to go. I will remember the kind notes that my friends sent me and our parting hugs. Even if it is challenging, I will try to stay in touch and I sincerely hope I can visit again.

This week I have been spending most of my time in Managua working on final reports and projects but Tuesday and Thursday I left the office. Tuesday was a fresh breath of mountain air as I got to visit Green Empowerment's other Nicaraguan partner ATDER-BL in the city of Matagalpa. I had a bit of an adventure in the morning sprinting to the bus station just as the bus was leaving, but I made it just in time. I spent the day wandering down the busy streets, reflecting in the beautiful churches, and appreciating the flowers and steep mountainous roads. I ate a breakfast of only vegetables (what a luxury!), and the director of ATDER-BL made my day by giving me a fruit cup complete with a slice of apple. I bought a handful of fresh jocotes and bananas from a street vendor, but as I walked down the street, I ended up giving them all away to the homeless people I passed with a smile. I treated myself to a smoothie and a fresh guava for lunch and tasted some pitaya sorbet at a charming ice cream shop. I chatted with an artisan and bought some of her work to bring back as gifts. I sat and reflected in a local park smiling at babies as they waddled by and helping an elderly lady read phone numbers in her phone. I enjoyed chatting with Caitlyn on the bus rides and learning more about the challenges and rewards of work in the non-profit world.

Thursday, I spent the day running errands around Managua with Dona Norma running across the highways and swaying in the crowded city buses. After a couple unsuccessful visits to the bank, I found an ATM that worked, and I was really excited to be able to buy her some new shoes which I hope will help with her foot pains. I also mustered the motivation to get my report done after everyone had left for the day. It is rewarding to see that I actually have done a significant amount of work this summer, and that I could write up a report of about 50 pages. I hope that it is helpful to Asofenix and future interns as well.

Ultimately, this fellowship affected me deeply at a personal level. This experienced pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I learned more about my own values, goals, and talents. I embraced the opportunity to work more independently, develop proficiency in communicating in a different language and culture, and present in front of a variety of audiences and age groups. Having the opportunity to teach reinforced my passion for education and my resolve to continue to take every opportunity to learn from and share experiences and skills with every person I meet. I gained insight into the many dimensions that contribute to a sustainable energy project. Working on both the educational and technical aspects of the work allowed me to see how all of the projects fit together into an integrated and transformational program. I also made a number of deeply meaningful friendships with the families in El Bálsamo, and I feel that I have another family here in Nicaragua. I was deeply moved by the opportunity to learn from and share the stories of the resilient and loving people I worked with. I have enjoyed learning the nuances of Nicaraguan language and culture, and I have become so immersed that I have even started dreaming in Spanish. This fellowship reinforced my desire to couple my technical skills and interest in science with my passion for teaching and community building to create a more just and sustainable world.
I am so grateful to Stanford, MAP, Green Empowerment, and Asofenix for making this experience
possible. I am thankful for my friends and family who encouraged me to take this opportunity and
have supported me throughout the experience. While I have to say "nos vemos" to Nicaragua, I take
comfort in the dual meaning of the phrase. While it means goodbye, it also means we'll see you again.


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