Benedicte Crudgington is a 7-month Program Director who arrived to Nicaragua in January 2018. Prior to joining the MPIN team, Benedicte graduated from Wake Forest University and spent a year working as an EMT and ER Technician in Washington D.C. As a Program Director, Benedicte teaches our level 5 English class, works in both of our community clinics, and helps to oversee the Community Health Promotion Program. Below is an account of her first month as a Program Director.
As I stepped off the plane into the heavy warm air, the cold grey winter that I was leaving behind seemed far away. A mix of Nicaraguans, groups of volunteers and other travelers de-boarded the plane and crowded into the barren hallway to fill out the custom forms. As Arthur—the other volunteer that was arriving with me—and I were trying to remember the address for the Manna house, a man stopped and asked us if we were volunteering with Manna Project International (MPI). Jesse, had been a volunteer with Manna several years ago and was returning to Nicaragua to research the Zika Virus. He had nothing but good things to say about his time spent volunteering and wished us luck. Up until I got off the plane, I had not started to process the fact that I was leaving my friends, family, and a life I loved behind in Washington D.C. for a little over half a year, but speaking with Jesse in the airport in Managua reminded me that volunteering with MPI was something that I had been looking forward to for the past several months.
Settling into life in Nicaragua has been filled with new learning experiences, from learning how to take the local bus to teaching English to a full class room. While there are of course challenges to moving to a new country where you know no one, I have been pleasantly surprised about how easily it has been to adjust to this new life. Every morning I get up and work out with a bunch of people in the house before settling down in the Hub, our main conference/work table, to lesson plan and prepare for the week. I have enjoyed working in the two clinics, and I have especially enjoyed teaching English—something entirely new for me. It is startling to think that I have already been here for one whole month and that I have already been able to travel and feel more comfortable teaching and working in the clinic. As I look forward for all the adventures that are to come in the coming months, I just hope that the time doesn’t go by too quickly.