Ten days from now, I will be on a plane on my way to Nicaragua. I almost can’t believe that I am going after three months of preparation. Just as well, I am unbelievably excited to use what I have learned and contribute to the work of Bridges to Community and past Dartmouth CCESP trips.
Seven months ago, I applied for this trip per the recommendation of friends who were past participants, and after an amazing experience in Honduras I was excited to volunteer abroad. But while taking the time to truly learn about international development and the country of Nicaragua, the initial excitement and glowing reviews faded, and I realized that I did not know why I was going on this trip. I touched on this on a previous blog post, but I want to expand on how I felt and my feelings now. In the middle of the term, I was learning how to make the right impact in an ethical way, and it was great that I was being educated properly for this trip. But I was questioning whether I was the right person to go. Can I be an ethical volunteer if I do not plan on pursuing international development for a career or through my lifetime? Suddenly I was not sure if I should go regardless of whether I wanted to or not. It was difficult to keep up with the coursework when my heart was not in it, and I didn’t want the term to end because then I would have to go on the trip.
Then Peter Mason from ACTS Honduras visited. Our discussion was specifically about returning to Honduras, and he convinced me to believe in the good that I can do as an experienced volunteer. This thinking expanded to the CCESP trip. I can contribute to this year’s trip, in an ethical and effective manner. In the future, I will remember the ethics of international development and the complex and humanist perspective with which I should view other countries. One small example is voting. In political candidates’ views of other countries, especially developing countries, my knowledge of the politics and ethics of international relations will help me make an educated vote. But from the smallest action such as discussions with friends about development to further volunteer trips, this class has had a life-changing impact on me, more than I had realized. And I’m not done yet!
I’m excited for what I’ll learn during my two weeks in Nicaragua – with regards to my final project on alcohol consumption, on healthcare challenges and practices in rural Nicaragua, and more on the culture of Nicaraguans. I’m excited to see Nicaragua, after learning about its politics and history. Maybe I will be lucky enough to hear some Nicaragua poetry from writers in Hormiguero. All I know for certain is that I feel confidently prepared and am ready to fly in with an open mind. A lot to do in two weeks, and hopefully I’ll have more stories upon my return.