Final Retreat

The three week mark has come for us program directors of the year 2010-2011and so as one of our last little hoorahs before we leave we went on our final retreat this past week with Amira.  Throughout the year we go on about three of four retreats that give us an opportunity to catch up with each other and discuss how things are going.  So Wednesday morning everyone packed into the micro and headed out towards Granada.  After a yummy and pleasantly filling breakfast at Kathy’s waffle house, we then piled into a boat and headed out towards the isletas, which was where we were to stay.  The isla that was ours for the night was a quaint little house with a giant pool, lots a hammocks and sitting areas to read and rest, and lots of beautiful trees and flowers.  In between the rain we went canoeing, swam, read in the many hammocks spread around the property, played cards, and then just spent time resting and relaxing.
Then for dinner we shared a deliciously big Mexican potluck and talked about our past year here; what was good, what was most memorable and what we have learned.  Despite most of our resistance to talk initially, I think that we all appreciated the chance to reflect with each other.  I think it is safe to say that none of us are the exact same person we were when we arrived, and so to be able to share that with the people we are closest with here was great.  And it wasn't all sad talk either.  Some of our most memorable moments where actually pretty comical, such as stories about getting the car stuck or trying to deal with the crazy weather or traffic.  Overall it was a great trip, and now we are back in Managua to finish out our time.  We now also have the next few weeks to look forward to getting to know the new program directors, who arrive back from language school this Friday.  

In the boat heading out towards the isletas.
The guys enjoying their down time.
The house on the isleta where we stayed.
Will and Dane throwing the frisbee.

poetry and snow cones

Maddie and I often say that we need a nap and a cocktail after MPI’s biweekly Creative Arts class. Thirty children are a handfull for sure – but when given handbells, drama props, or the deadly combination of glitter and glue, all semblances of order and quiet disappear. So perhaps we were insane to think it would be a good idea to take these students on a field trip, but Granada (a neighboring colonial town) was hosting a poetry festival. Why not expose them to a cultural world outside their neighborhood?

After permission slips were signed and attendance requirements stated, we were left with 14 poetry participants. On Thursday after Feeding Program, Maddie and I loaded the kids in the van and kidnapped Amira and Tressa to help us supervise. The ride to Granada involved many small heads and arms flapping out the windows, some tooting recorders (which they found under the seat, who knew?!), and one stop at a gas station for a poor “I’m going to vomit” niño. But we arrived to the festival with children intact. After dividing into groups, we wandered the main city square and meandered among the booths of poetry books. Despite the aura of refinement and literature, I’m convinced that the kids’ favorite part of the trip was eating raspados (gooey Nica snow cones) before we headed for the van to hit the highway.

Although it seems fairly insignificant to take a child to a festival and give her a snow cone, I have been recently realizing just how small is the bubble of a world in which these children live. They go to school and they come home. They play soccer in the dirt streets in their barrio and occasionally board a bus with their mothers to buy rice and beans at the market. And that’s all. No family vacations or school field trips or outings to the movies. No exposure to museums or libraries. But part of MPI’s mission is to empower these children – to encourage them in their abilities and to offer them opportunities beyond their limited world. With this mindset, an afternoon trip to a cultural festival in a new city is not only significant, it’s vital. It can open eyes and expand minds to see that a world of prospects lies beyond what they know as day-to-day life.

With a newfound love for poetry and snow cones,