Wise Words from a Program Director's Mother

A guest blog from Joyce Calvo-Chen


So what is it like having a daughter work for Manna Project International?

I was shocked when Carissa first told me she was applying to Manna Project, and if accepted would be living in Nicaragua for 13 months! I had definitely been spoiled having Carissa in college only 15 minutes away from our home. After she graduated, I originally thought she would be working in New York City and was already having a hard time accepting that! The day finally came for her to leave on a grand adventure to Nicaragua and as any parent may have, I cried as we said goodbye at the airport, and then again in the car ride… all the way home. I knew it would be a long time until Christmas break and began counting down the days…

Once she started telling me about her experiences in Nicaragua, her first week in Spanish school and living with a host family, I knew she was in the right place. She was so happy and with wonderful loving people. From what I could see, she was having such a beautiful experience right away. I was relieved hearing about Carissa’s new home and so excited for her.

I never would have been brave enough to do something like that and I was in awe and so proud of her. Those words cannot describe how I felt and how I feel now.

When she came home for Christmas I was so happy to be reunited with her again! It was Carissa’s first day home when she received a Skype call from her host family in Nicaragua. She was speaking Spanish to them and I could not believe how well she was able to communicate. Her second family in Nicaragua already missed her and I could tell that the little girls in that family love her so much!

She continued to share her experiences with our friends and extended family that came to visit for the holidays. She showed us photos and videos of herself teaching English, helping the women with their jewelry cooperative, and the different communities where she works. After looking at her photos on Facebook, seeing the beauty of Nicaragua and how many experiences she has had with her new friends I am so happy for her. Despite my initial sadness and heartbreak from Carissa leaving, I am able to forgive her knowing Nicaragua is exactly where she is supposed to be.

-Joyce Calvo-Chen