English Bachelor of Arts candidate 2018
Florida International University
There I was, busy as ever but I kept hearing my (then) professor and Urbana Literary and Arts Magazine advisor (upgraded to mentor later on), Emily Sendin, about her trips to Nicaragua. In fact, I’ve been hearing about them for years when we met everyday at Starbucks when she came to get her morning soy latte from her favorite barista. What has always captivated me about her mentions of Nicaragua is the undying glimmer in her eyes as she provided snippets of her experiences with the Tengo un Sueño children. That’s the thing. She never gave too much which drove my ever-present curious bug wild. I just didn’t know how I would find the time. My brain juggled excitement and hyperactive nerves every time I thought of Nicaragua. I was ready for the experience.
I had not paid much mind to Nicaragua before to be frank. Its struggles were upsetting from afar, but I had yet to take action. However, this was the year that would change. There I was, roaming the grounds of this country, and I was anxiously awaiting lessons from its wonders and beyond. I was introduced to Chacraseca, Nicaragua – a small, rural town that magically dressed my life. Everything was different, and I was ready to take it all in. The day after my arrival, I finally met the students, the Dreamers or Los Soñadores. I was intimidated at first because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, but I quickly got over it. Everyone made sure I felt right at home, like a family. I’m thankful for Rita and Leyla, the program’s coordinators in Nicaragua, for welcoming me with open arms.
Day after day, I assisted alongside the other interns with the lessons that we prepared for the Dreamers. Marcela, the English teacher, made sure her class had well-rounded teaching methods and glided gracefully through the day. This flow also wouldn’t be as seamless if it didn’t have the help of the people involved. I’m especially grateful for having Huguette’s guidance with many lessons. As counselor, she helped us navigate tough subjects. I thoroughly enjoyed this type of teamwork. See, the more I became part of the dreamers’ everyday life, the more I wanted to continue to engage with them and their community. From reading I Am Malala together, to interviewing their parents, and joining the students on excursions that were planned in return of free smiles, I was watching a part of the world unravel I never knew I wanted to be part of. The world of the Dreamers, a world I intend on being part for as long as my life permits me.
The Tengo un Sueño program definitely provided me with a much needed readjustment to my life. Though I’ve always been one to appreciate the small joys of life, this experience opened my mind to understand appreciation a bit more. I laughed under the beaming sun with the Dreamers, I taught them, and they taught me. Ultimately, we all exchanged pieces of our hearts during this time.
This may just seem like a dream now, but I’ll be there as it continues to evolve into reality. With education everything is possible especially when opportunity and raw talent combine. So, will you be joining me and the Dreamers next year?