Written by Juliette Benedetto ’18 and Athena Michaels ’18 to recount Tuesday, June 13, 2017:
After a semi-restless night for the girls due to the torrential downpour hitting the tin roof along with our new 5 a.m. chicken alarm, a hand full of us still decided to rise at 6:30 am and tackle the challenge of tabata with our leaders, Julia, Bella and Jimmy, along with 2 boys in the NA group, who seemed to have slept soundly and without interruption. We then prepared ourselves for the upcoming day and hurried downstairs to ensure our ability to play a quick game of “connect four” or “spit” before our wonderful breakfast feast. After hearing the bell ring from the kitchen staff, we attentively listened to our leader describe what we were going to eat. Thankfully, French toast and oatmeal were on the menu and everyone hurried to get in line for the food. We then finished our last bites, put away our plates and silverware, and downed any remaining coffee we had in our cups.
We then hit the road and made our way towards the church with our supplies for the day. After setting up the chairs and tables, the kids eagerly piled in and waved down their choices for reading partners. Most of them were familiar faces, however it was nice to see some new kids ready to start their Outreach journey with Norfolk Academy. We circled up and sang the now familiar songs; we even had some of our volunteers lead the chants! Afterwards, the kids had a blast playing creative games such as “wasp, wasp, bee”, coloring in necklaces with insects on them, practicing their spelling, and later enjoying some stickers given out by the volunteers; the stickers seemed to put a bigger smile on their faces than anything. After singing 3 more songs, we set ourselves up for the kids exit: the volunteers either building a bridge for the kids to walk under or blowing bubbles before they finally exit the church.
We then headed back to the Outreach house and sat down for another lesson, this time on history. This seemed to be more interesting than the cultural talk not only because we had a history master in our presence (Coach Acra), but also because we played a game called “lechuga” (like hot potato). If the music stopped and you had the crumbled up paper ball in your had, you had to read out an interesting fact about the country. Finally, we heard the bell ring again, making us rush to our chairs and listened to what was for lunch. Interestingly enough, the menu consisted of food one would find at a Nicaraguan fiesta. We chowed down on our food and afterwards, we spent our remaining free time either at “fruitissimo” (a smoothie place that has now become a hotspot, and not just because of the wifi) or “Veronica’s cafe” (the “Starbucks” of Jinotega). We raced back the house to reapply our new best friend, bug spray, and fill up our water bottles to the top.
The afternoon session presented itself with a challenge- 52 kids instead of our almost 20 children in the morning. Although, each group worked hard to ensure the afternoon children would learn to the extent the of the morning children. After changing a couple of things, including the handing out of stickers to avoid bloodshed, each group found themselves more engaged and met their certain tasks at hand. We then gave these children then same exit as the morning group and headed back to our Nicaraguan “home”.
After our hour of free time, we were introduced to our Latin dance teacher, Ernesto. I do not think any of us will be able to erase the image of Coach Acra popping and locking to the upbeat Spanish music. After the insane amount of sweat the group worked up in the 30 minute class, we eagerly waited for the 3rd and last bell ring of the day. At a little before 6 pm, we took our seats and waited to answer the trivia question of the night (answering correctly meant that one’s “team” would be first in line for dinner). The meal of homemade quesadillas (even the tortilla was put together from scratch) and our new staple, plantains, gave us the energy to create our lesson plans for the next day and later, venture back out into town.
As each day goes by, the group seems to get closer and closer, allowing everyone to break out of their shell and make new friends. We no longer sit boys on one side and girls on the other or only talk to people whom we hang out with at home. We cannot wait to see how our review day goes tomorrow and experience the opportunity that Outreach 360 has given us. ¡Hasta Luego!