The Roller Coaster Ride

A volunteer English teacher who found her second family at NPH Nicaragua.
January 13, 2016 - Nicaragua

Weekend activity of building kites

The best way I can describe my year and a half at NPH Nicaragua is as an emotional roller coaster. This is not one of those baby rides where you know what’s coming. I’m talking about one of those “Big Kids Only” thrillers with head spinning turns, heart stopping highs and stomach churning drops.

At the end of every day I collapse into bed and can hardly believe how many emotions I have experienced in a mere sixteen hours. On my morning run I am at peace watching the sun slowly rise over a volcano as the community comes to life. At breakfast I am greeted by screams of “BUENOS DIAS ELIZA!!!” then startled by bickering over spots in line as I serve gallo pinto. In my first class of the day I swallow the cries of frustration that rise in my throat when no one listens to me. Right as I step outside the classroom my second graders swarm me and asking with anticipation, “We have English today, right?!?” I then pray to God for guidance as I struggle to connect with a sixth grade girl who wants nothing do to with my class and is on the road to failing.

I dig deep for energy and ‘animo’ as I teach fifth graders at 4:30 pm with temperatures hitting 99 degrees. At home I have an impromptu dance party to the new bachata hit with a co-volunteer to blow off steam. While walking to my section for dinner, and (actually) craving beans, I recognize the screams of one of the boys in the midst of a temper tantrum. I then help calm the fight that started because someone stole someone else’s spoon. After dinner a few of us play a game of Parcizzi, which is based on bickering over technicalities and complaining about bad luck. I can’t help but smiling during another “Nica Family Game Night”. As eight o’clock rolls around I put each boy to bed and receive a plethora of hugs and kisses on the cheek while being told “Sweet dreams” and “See you tomorrow, if God wills it”.

As you can see, life is emotionally exhausting here, but every time I think I have hit my limit someone in the family picks me back up. Maybe it’s a loving hug from one of my boys “just because” or a Tio in my section asking, “You look sad, what’s up?” and then genuinely listening to the answer. Other times it was because one of my students made me a homemade birthday card. One time the National Director invited all the volunteers over for a breakfast of eggs benedicts just to say “Thanks”. Another time it was hearing a boy in my section say, “There’s a voice in my heart that tells me to trust you; that you won’t hurt me,” while I coaxed him to the clinic that he is terrified of. One weekend it was a fellow volunteer leaving out homemade cookies with a note “Enjoy”. On some days all it took to make me better was one of my beloved boys looking at me with their big eyes and saying, “I love you”.

With so much love it is incredibly hard to get off this rollercoaster of a life. I have learned that my parting is not a “Goodbye,” but rather a “See you later” because family is for life.

Eliza Herrero   
English Teacher Volunteer




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