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Want a deeper insight into what an ICS placement looks like? Read the amazing blogs written by our past and present volunteers. Enjoy the journey!
The idea of living with a host family can be quite a daunting experience and is one that we were all quite apprehensive about. Sometimes, it is hard enough getting along with your own family, let alone a family who live on the other side of the world, with different cultural norms and a completely different language. Despite these initial worries, there was also a sense of anticipation and excitement to what the eleven weeks living in a new home would entail.
It has been a quarter well spent in 2016. Volunteering under ICS has had a huge positive impact in my life and to the youth I worked with. It has touched our economic, private and social lives. It has been a long but short journey altogether. Facing the departure of our UK volunteers made the journey longer, but weighing the benefits attained at the end of programme makes it shorter. At the end of the day, one may wish the programme to be longer than three months.
I remember trying to decide which ICS placement to choose and thinking ‘El Salvador is meant to be one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, that’s got to be the one for me!’. As a feminist activist, I was excited to come to a country with little gender equality to offer my help, little did I know then that the most helpful thing I can do here is actually to learn.
We’re now in our last week in El Bramadero, the end of the project is approaching and it’s beginning to sink in that soon we’re going to be leaving this beautiful place. We’re preparing ourselves to say tearful goodbyes to the national volunteers and host families who have taken us in and made us truly welcome in their community (cue the water-works). We’ve started to reflect on everything we’ve learnt and experienced in Nicaragua and begun to think of what the dreaded reality of life post-ICS (commonly known as ‘real life’) may hold for us…
Due to a water shortage, on Thursday evening I was ‘forced’ to bathe in the river by my host home just as the sun was setting. Swimming in a clear river, with fireflies providing a low yet scenic light, watching a perfect sunset was really the antidote to what has been a tense week.
When I refer to a tense week, I’m not talking about how busy it has been but how the living situation, how close we are to the end, the weekly conversations with loved ones back home and the work out here is starting to show on everybody’s faces.
A few weeks ago, whilst attending pre-departure training in the UK, I had to make a decision on which community I wanted to work with. On paper, Valle de San Antonio was more urban, had actual pavements made of cement, a park with free Wi-Fi and the school, Almilcar Calderón, has 400 children. San Benito is the rural younger sibling, no internet, dirt roads, nothing to do and the school, Arely Azucena, only has 80 children. The decision was easy; #letsgotoSanBenito.
El día 4 de noviembre fuimos a Tegucigalpa. al teatro Manuel Bonilla. para participar en el concurso de baile y canto, en la cual participan todas las escuelas de Honduras, las cuales son apoyadas por Glasswing y tienen el club de Glee. Fue algo muy bonito para la comunidad de San Benito y La Villa de San Antonio ya que era la primera vez que se participaban en algo así. En dicho evento pudimos deleitarnos con presentaciones de danza folclórica, dramatizaciones y otras actividades que fueron muy bonitas.
As this week comes to an end, the following phrases have now been reiterated by both Nicas and Brits:
Brits: “Where has the time gone?!”, “I don’t want to leave”, “How are we going to cope?”, “Can we take the Nicas and our host families with us?” and “Do you reckon we’ll have any alcohol tolerance after three months dry?”
Nicas: “Are you going to miss us? We will miss you!”, “I’ll cry when you leave” and “Can you take me with you to London?”