I find it hard to concentrate as I write this blog for the last time, as our journey in Nicaragua has almost come to an end. With one week left to spend in this remarkable and exotic country, all of the volunteers are planning a week away to relax and reflect on all the memories we have gained. I was not expecting time to pass so swiftly at all, but here we all are, preparing for the big finale in La Plaza de la Cultura in Masaya. Stress levels for some are running high as we want to make our last event a huge success and leave Masaya on a high.
It was nine weeks ago when we arrived at the school of El Pochote for the first time and the school children, the teachers, and the local community celebrated our arrival. The volunteers and I got on the bus, with limited seats, for our last time of enduring the off-road journey to El Pochote.
As we walked up the steps to the school grounds, I could see “Si pequeña es la patria uno grande la sueña” painted on the wall quoted by Ruben Dario. The school was decorated with banners in the colours of the Nicaraguan flag and chairs in the colours of the United Kingdom flag. There was a ribbon wrapped around the eco-friendly bins the Environmental Group had been building right up until this day ready for the opening.
We made our way to the chairs and as I sat down, it felt like déjà-vu of the first day, except now all the volunteers were integrated and the children were interacting with everyone.
The event started with the teachers doing various speeches thanking us for the work we have accomplished, the complementary activities, and for teaching English to the school children. The national volunteers, school children and the teachers sang their national anthem which was preceded by us singing our national anthem.
A few of the school children that were taught by the UK volunteers performed some dances, which I thought was in some measure unsuitable for their ages, but only in Nicaragua.
One UK volunteer, Jacob Williams, stood at the podium to present his speech. Williams wanted to present the speech by himself to demonstrate the amount of Spanish he has learnt. In it he thanked the community, the school children for being open-minded, host families for being patient when the volunteers struggled with the language barrier, and finally for assisting us throughout the construction of the eco-latrines. Williams came to Nicaragua with a basic level of Spanish. After weekly classes of Spanish and speaking to the national volunteers, I am proud that he has come such a long way with his Spanish.
Towards the end of the project, the UK volunteers decided to teach their individual classes nursery rhymes and other well-known sing-a-longs. These were performed on the day. After each class had performed, they gave a gift of a traditional souvenir to each volunteer.
Jessie Cassidy sang her own version of ‘Dreams’ while Matthew Cooke played the guitar. Following their performance all the UK volunteers sang ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’ with alternating choruses in Spanish and English, which was not so great on this occasion as some of the volunteers were getting emotional! Jemma Reid had composed her own song for this occasion which I thank her for as it was very momentous.
After all the performances, it was time for everyone to enjoy and socialise with the school children for one last time with a good game of volleyball.
The past nine weeks have been absolutely incredible. Not only has it taught me to be more confident when using my Spanish knowledge, but it has pushed me to improvise much more when I have been in awkward situations and when challenges arise. I am very grateful to have been a part of Progressio Nicaragua as it has taught me many life skills and I have learnt a lot about myself. I highly recommend ICS and for everyone to take part in it as it will be one of the most amazing, unforgettable experiences you will ever have. The friends I have made, both from Nicaragua and the UK, have made this experience truly memorable.
Written by ICS Volunteer Harvie Chiu