Sunday, April 19, 2009

As part of my trip to Nicaragua we were asked to write a reflection paper. I will confess to my grad students that I put it off until the day before it was due. Bad idea but like many of my students, I managed to get it done. Here is a snippet of what I wrote.....

Thank you for providing the opportunity to participate in a trip and an experience far beyond what I ever expected when I arrived at this university. It was a life-changing occasion and one that I strongly believe will continue to reverberate in my soul for years to come. I was humbled by all that I saw, heard, tasted, touched and smelled. I write this with Carlos Mejia Godoy’s folk mass, Misa Campesina Nicaraguense, blasting throughout my house. I ate rice and beans for breakfast this morning with a cup of coffee purchased from CECOCFEN, a coffee co-op of peasant farmers. This with the hope of bringing back memories of time in Nicaragua and turn my feelings and thoughts into words. Yet it is extremely difficult to write a “reflection” … me, of many words, both spoken and written.

I hold joy and pain for the people of Nicaragua simultaneously in my heart. I see the face of the tiny child playing with a plastic hanger in the center of Managua with no adults nearby to care for him but I also hear his laughter as he and his brother chase each other around the center courtyard. I remember the young girl sipping coffee at the farm while her mother and her friends talked to us about their union work. She looks wise beyond her age. She, too, will lead.
What can I do to assist in the efforts of the Nicaraguan people? For each person I pray for health, family to love and support, food to sustain, education, and meaningful work. How can I help? I do not know but I have learned a little something about aid to other countries and provided to people at the local level. I heard a woman say, “When aid comes with strings it takes away some of our soul.” How can I help? I am percolating. I do know that my life has been vastly changed by this experience. It has affected my teaching, my relationship with my colleagues and with my family and friends. Yet I still cannot talk about the “trip” with any sense of clarity.

I ramble. My mind rambles. I waited too long to write this because I did not know what to say, likely for the first time in my life. Words are my business. My faith in man and woman-kind has deepened. As I wrote previously, I am humbled.

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