After a long day of travelling, all the volunteers were ready to make their way to the school in El Pochote. When the bus arrived, I think everyone assumed that another bus would be coming in order to fit us all in. 

We all thought wrong. 

Once we were all ‘cosily’ packed in, the bus drove off through Masaya. I could see through the window makeshift houses, street stalls and a lot of locals selling food outside their houses. As soon as the bus went off road to start its ascent to El Pochote, it was basically a sign to brace ourselves. The bus was going so slowly - literally turtle speed - it probably would have been quicker to walk up the hill. Regardless, it was thrilling to be thrown into the experience.

The bus came to a halt and I could get a small glimpse of the school with a banner saying “welcome volunteers“. As soon as I stepped onto the school property I could feel the buzz of the atmosphere. All the school children were in their uniforms sitting in a single file in front of one of the classrooms. There were locals dressed in traditional clothing, balloons in the colours of the Great Britain flag and Piñatas hanging from a tree. We all got chairs from the classroom and placed them in the corner of the playground ready to be greeted by the community. The day started with Ninoska and Carmen thanking the locals for having us followed by a few of the locals giving us their blessing for volunteering. After the speeches all the UK volunteers had to go up on stage and introduce themselves.

Following the speeches, a few of the school children and locals performed traditional dances in these amazing colourful clothes. One school girl performed a solo dance and midway one of the national volunteers decided to go up and dance with her. Adonis was announcing another performance and asked Jema to get involved. The expression on Jema’s face as she looked at all of us was classic and clueless. It was hilarious seeing some of the UK volunteers getting stuck right in. Of course, where there is dancing there must always be singing and it was an absolute pleasure to hear the children and locals sing their national anthem to us as well as other songs. 

Shortly after the dancing some of the locals chopped branches off a tree so they could hoist up the Mickey and Minnie piñatas. The school children formed a circle around the piñata creating a “so-called stage“ where one of the willing contestants got to swing at the piñata and the children all shouted out “BAILA, BAILA, BAILA“. 

At the same time as the piñata, Ninoska asked if it was possible for a few of the UK volunteers to do an interview in Spanish. I got asked to talk about what kind of work I am doing in El Pochote and what I hope to gain from this experience. After everyone had done the interview we got told that it would be aired on national television. I just thought to myself “Oh great, what a great way to ruin my reputation in Spanish!” On the whole, the day was an absolute blessing and we were all appreciative of all the effort the school children and locals made.

Written by ICS volunteer Harvie Chiu