1. Seeing the excited faces of all the kids. Whether it’s on the way up to Farito for Camp J.A.M. or a homevisit in Villa Guadalupe for Child Sponsorship, there’s no better feeling than seeing the children’s smiling faces run up to you and climb up for a piggy back ride. Camp Jam, a crafts and activities class for kids, has been one of my most favorite Manna programs. Though the children can get rowdy sometimes, it gives them something to do for an hour twice a week and an opportunity to express their creativity. On the other side, Child Sponsorship was more of a serious experience - ensuring that the kids enrolled in the program were receiving the nutrients and safe environment that they need to grow. I will never forget many of the kids that I met through these programs and hope to see them with the same excited faces in the near future.
2. Being welcomed into the home of a Nica family: The willingness of so many families to open their homes is truly heartwarming. I know of no other place where you are welcome to visit someone’s home at any hour of the day and receive such good hospitality. The families in Cedro Galan are always happy to sit and talk with you, help improve your Spanish, have you over for lunch or dinner, or even invite you to spend the night with them. Forming relationships with community members has been one of the most rewarding experiences in Nica and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have met so many inspiring people.
3. Bonding with the Mannamily: While working in the community has been amazing, getting to know the Manna Program Directors and other interns has also been an eye-opening experience. Many of my most significant memories include relaxing on the roof with everyone after a long day in the community or bonding with certain people. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and has personal stories to tell, for example, why they chose to work with Manna. But in the end we’re all here for the same purpose and I’ve learned so much from everyone in just a month.
4. Being swarmed with patients at the clinic: Since being here in Nica, I’ve spent a significant portion of my time at the Forward Health clinic in Cedro Galan which opened in October of last year. A couple of weeks ago, we hit the 500 patient mark, which is a huge success for the clinic and is an indicator that we’re able to reach a large number of people in the community. Many times at clinic, we’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who show up for consultas (consultations) and have to work quickly to enter patient history, symptoms, and take vital signs. While stressful, it’s also a sign that we’re able to offer affordable health care to many people and, hopefully, take a step towards improving the overall health of the community. Therefore, a busy day at clinic is always good day.
5. Successfully teaching an English lesson: Before I arrived in Nica, I never thought that I would enjoy teaching an English class or have enough patience for it. But after assisting in three levels of English classes, I’ve learned to accept the challenge that comes with teaching. It can be really difficult to get certain grammatical points across to the students, especially for levels 1 and 2, which are taught in Spanish, but it’s a great feeling when a student finally understands and applies the lesson. English classes are also another way that I have felt connected to the community and been able to meet new people.
There are so many other memories and feelings that I have of Nica that I wish I could put into words, but these will have to do for now. While I’m sad to be leaving, I know that I’ll be back soon enough and will add to all of the unforgettable memories that I’ve made here. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been an intern for Manna and I can’t think of a better way to have spent a month of my summer.