International Languages: Music and Laughter 

Hanging out with Los Vásquez is always a good time, but for Doña Edita’s birthday we decided to take it up a notch and gift them all nose flutes. If we’re honest, there may have been more laughter than music going on, but we wouldn’t have changed it for the world. 

Soggy Smiles for Fiestas Patrias

We might have been drenched after standing in the rain while we waited for the fiestas patrias parades to start, but we loved getting to be with teacher friends, share in the soggy silliness with our students, and to represent our school with gringo pinolero pride. 

Dicho for Being OK

As Emily mentioned in some of her previous posts, this period in our service can feel funky, an in-between phase.  For example, I wrote in my journal yesterday about wanting to be present and savor every last moment here, but instead of going over to visit Nica friends I spent 3+ hours emailing different graduate school programs in school psychology.

One thing I’ve definitely been making sure to savor is the delicious, in-season corn.  Nicaraguans are corn people.  Two of their national monikers are Hijos del Maiz (Children of the Corn) and Pinoleros (Pinol People, pinol being a corn mixture used in drinks).  There are countless corn dishes, drinks, desserts, etc. in the national cuisine.  In my opinion, they are all quite scrumptious!

To celebrate Nicaraguan corn, and give voice to how we’re feeling at this point in our service, I give you the following dicho:

Entre camagua y elote – Between baby corn and full-fledged corn on the cob.

Chances are, if you’ve taken any Spanish classes in your life you know at least one way to answer the question “¿Cómo estás?”.  While bien (well/fine) works perfectly well here, you’ll gain some serious points for invoking the corn.  The closest standard Spanish equivalent to this dicho would be más o menos (pronounced má’ o meno’ here in Nica), meaning you’ve been better, but overall things are OK.

Whether it’s baby corn, corn on the cob, güirila, rosquillas, or tortillas, we’ll keep taking it in whatever form it comes to us.  It’s all Nicaraguan, and it’s all delicious🙂

The Power of Compliments

Baho

I love food.  I love cooking it, eating it, thinking about it, talking about it, everything.  As a cook, I also know how good it feels to have someone expound on the scrumptiousness of my creations. Therefore, I have no shame in showering praise on people that make my barriga llena y corazón contento.  I’ve successfully wooed the lady that prepares our lunches for STEP.  She often writes my name on the boxed lunch destined for me, and I’ll be treated to a special surprise (an extra piece of chicken, an extra portion, a special side, etc.).  Sometimes I get really lucky, and when she’s cooking up special dishes during the week, she drops a serving off at our house.  This beauty is a baho she made last Friday.  SOOO GOOD!!!!

Privileged Mobility and America’s Second Best Idea

Our friend and fellow Nica 64 TEFL Volunteer, Conor, recently put words to a lot of our complex feelings here towards the end of our service. I’m thankful to have served and learned along side him and his wife and to have the opportunity to have Nicaragua take us all in.

The NicAdventure

By Conor Sanchez

There’s a young university student in my community named Alvaro who loves practicing English with me every chance he gets. On campus, in the park, on the street corner – wherever. As soon as he spots me, he makes a b-line in my direction to chat.

His English is decent but he sometimes says things that are awkward. I remember feeling uncomfortable our first few interactions, but as I got used to him, I realized he was merely exploring the boundaries of the language by practicing the edgier phrases he had learned in American films.

There was one day recently, however, where his thoughts carried a lot more weight than our usual banter about English grammar rules. This time we were talking mostly in Spanish, having a conversation about travel. He said he wanted to go to the United States. New York, maybe, or Chicago…whatever. He said it didn’t matter. He…

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English Singing and Not Yet Goodbye

English Singing Competition

We had the honor of helping with the annual municipal (county) English Singing festival this past week.  Over 20 schools sent their best English singers to compete for the chance to represent us at the departmental (state) level, and maybe on to the national competition.  We’re super excited that our high school, Guillermo Cano, won!

Irela, the English tecnica for the Ministry of Education, one of our dear friends and such a hard worker, was the muscle behind the whole event.  She surprised us with framed certificates and almost cried as she told the crowd she’s going to miss us so much next year. We’re not ready to say goodbye yet, but it was a touching reminder that it won’t be easy when the time comes.

Combating Late-Service Burnout (Part 2)

Miss Part 1?  Find it here.


Coming from a profession that also has a high level of burnout (teaching), I think it’s important to be aware of the difficulties life-encompassing work like Peace Corps can bring. When you care so much, how can you not give your all until there is nothing more to give? Instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, the more we can acknowledge and affirm each other’s struggles, the more supported we will feel. From this place of affirmation, we can then look towards steps to counter burnout, and re-embrace our passion for life-changing work.

Here are some steps that I am taking to help combat my burnout and to ensure that I am still able to give my best during our 4-month extension as well. I invite PCVs (and even those in other high burnout professions) to join me and give one or two of them a try:

 

  1. Remind yourself of why you made the 27-month commitment.

Continue reading Combating Late-Service Burnout (Part 2)

Musings from Nica | A Couple's Journey in the Peace Corps

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