Hank is a Star in Matagalpa

If I know anything to be true, I know that this past week was one for the books, filled with memories that will last a lifetime. This week MPI sent the 7 new Program DIrectors (PDs) to Matagalpa to attend an amazing Spanish School, Colibri, and participate in separate homestays to improve our Spanish comprehension. Every day we went to Colibri for four hours of Spanish class, went to our homestays for lunch and after, participated in an activity that taught us more about the culture in Nicaragua. Colibri has a teaching technique where they only use Spanish inside and outside the classroom with no explanations in English. At first this absolutely terrified me because my Spanish was quite weak, but in the end this method of learning enhanced my ability to interpret Spanish even when I did not know all the words they were using.

In addition to the actual classes, the activities Colibri took us were fun and informative. These trips consisted of touring one of Matagalpa’s biggest markets, taking a traditional Nica cooking class, hiking up Cerro Apente, participating in a lecture on the Revolution in Nicaragua, and touring the local coffee museum.

One of the most eye opening activities we participated in was the discussion about the Revolution in Nicaragua. I won't go into much detail, but it amazed me how long this movement has carried on. From before the 1960′s until now, many people are unhappy with the way the government has been run and want to fight for the ideals of the Sandinista party, "give me freedom or give me death." It is common to see flags of this party hanging up all over Nicaragua to show their support. If you are interested, you should look into the Revolution in Nicaragua because it really shows why this country is in the state that it is.

In Matagalpa I lived in the most wonderful family’s home. On my first night, they invited me to their family party, took me to their farm house and really made me feel like I was a part of the family. Currently in Nicaragua there is a shortage of water and since Matagalpa is located below sea level, there is some water that can be found under the ground. To find the water they take a long, flexible stick and put the ends at each side of their hips and walk slowly across their land. They say if you walk slowly and have the proper energy then the stick will twist naturally when above water. The funny part is, out of ten people at the house the stick only twisted for me! I honestly did not believe this technique in the slightest while they were explaining it to me, but it really did twist! Each spot I detected to have water, a professional they hired a week before also found water there. My family in Matagalpa asked me if I would consider changing my profession to become a waterfinder, but I looked up the benefits and decided against it. Throughout the rest of the week I spent a lot of time with my family eating meals, playing games and just having good conversations. We all are now Facebook friends and I hope to keep in touch with them as much as I can.

Outside of the PD’s time in school and with our families, we were able to spend time together and grow even closer. I feel as if I should introduce you to S Club 7, our group name, or else some of my stories now and in the future wont make sense. There are 3 girls: Heidi, Martha and Madeline, and 3 boys: Hank, Dave and Mike, that are new PDs. Heidi and Martha are my roommates in the Manna House. Heidi is from Texas, is very sweet, and we bond over our love for Southern food. Martha graduated from Penn and is the most loveable, sassy person you’ll know. Madeline is from all over the world, is very caring and can make a whole crowd laugh just by laughing herself. Mike, Dave and Hank are all roommates and are much different from one another. Mike is from England and is extremely smart, one of the most interesting guys I have met. Dave is from New Jersey and makes me feel at home with his super sarcastic ways; he is hilarious. Hank is a sophomore at North Eastern and is the friendliest guy ever. It sounds like a stretch but I promise, he really is. One of the best nights we had together was when we all went to Karaoke Night.

I suppose that Karaoke Night is just as popular in Nicaragua as it is in the US because the room was completely packed. Hank, the risk taker of the group, decided to sing the Justin Beiber classic, ‘Sorry.’ In addition to attempting to sing, Hank decided to make it a full on performance, walking around the room, cascading down the stairs, getting others to join in, just really working the crowd. Since we all were new to Nicaragua, we were slightly worried how this show would be taken. In the end, everyone in the room LOVED IT! After this, people would come up to Hank on the street, in restaurants, wanting to chat with him. I believe that if he stayed in Matagalpa longer he would become a star.

From learning Spanish and living with a local family to bonding with the fellow PDs and exploring Matagalpa, this trip, like I had said earlier, was one for the books. This upcoming week is my first week actually working my programs so I am very excited. Until next week! Adios!

Peace and Blessings,