Days 7, 8 & 9 - The Staying of Homes

The students have just returned from their home stays, feeling well connected with the families, but craving real showers. Because every TSC members experience at their home has been so different, we thought it would be a fun idea for each team member to write a little paragraph about their three days away from the rest of the group. On Sunday we traveled to a lovely tropical pool called ojo de agua. The following weekdays we taught in the computer labs (thought the loss of power created many problems) and helped in English classes. We were even taught to dance be the Nicaraguans at night! This unique blog will cover all those topics, each in a different person's perspective.

Zem Zem

My homestay was so great and an event I would honestly never forget. I had a great time with the family including the children and Marcelina Castillo, the woman of the house. Rice and beans were the main foods eaten in Ometepe Island and the homestays but they served rice and beans differently each time so it was pretty interesting and tasty each time. The baked chickens were just amazing, one of the best I have ever tasted in all my sixteen years. The main drinks were coke and lemonades which are freshly squeezed and again, it was just plain amazing. My room smelled fresh, I had a great mosquito net and I felt safe. Shelby was my roommate and I was the one who translated for her and helped her with Spanish during the homestay! I have to say, I felt like an expert using so much Spanish. We watched a lot of television with our families and during the night, we would come out and play rough soccer with many other teenagers in the neighborhood. We laughed a lot with our families and shared many funny moments, everyone in the household were completely nice and fun to communicate with. If I could, I would do homestay over AND OVER AGAIN. The food’s amazing, the people are nice, and its fun. What more could you ask for?

Lynna

Even before the homestay started, there was trouble. Walking down the hill from the Finca was definitely not my favorite part of the trip. With a duffel bag heavier than me, I trudged down those rocky slopes. It weighed me down so much that I had to pull over every few seconds to catch long-lost breaths of air as the hot sun beat down on my back. Luckily, a nice Nicaraguan man saw me dying on the side of the road and decided it was time to step in. Given an offer I could not refuse, I happily spat out my broken “mucho gracias” and watched in amazement as he lifted my bag onto his shoulder like it was nothing. We finally arrived at our meeting place (I was, of course, last) to which he dropped the bag off at my feet and continued on his way without even a backward glance.

Not long after, I found myself unpacking in a room I was sharing with Annie. We were at one of the Nicaraguan students whom we were partnered up with named Selena who was decent at English. We were excited to learn that she was a proud owner of many pets including a family of dogs containing new puppies that could hardly walk. Even more surprising was her pet squirrel that I met for the first time when it jumped on my back and got stuck on my dress before I could stand still for Selena to pull him off.

The rest of the homestay went as planned without any more squirrel attacks. We walked to school with Selena and walked back with her. She even came with us to the afternoon teaching sessions to which she was not in class to play volleyball as she waits for us to finish up. She and the rest of the family were wonderful hosts, always making sure we were well-fed and always asking us if we needed anything. It was sad to leave the comfort of a home but alas, we said our goodbyes… then we saw each other at school the next day.

Bob

I did not have the opportunity for a home stay. I stayed in a central location where I could instead visit all the houses easily. There was a wide variety of home situations but all shared some commonalities. First, the families felt tremendous responsibility for the welfare of the students. If they weren’t home on time, they came asking. If they wanted to go out again, they had to go with somebody from the family. Second, the families were incredibly thoughtful with the students. They tried hard to find things to do with them. When the lights went out, I walked around to make sure all was fine and it was. My favorite family experience that night came when I walked in and was watching Sophia and Emily playing a cards in the candle light with the family. The first time I visited Madeleine she was making tortillas by hand . I saw Seth and Hugo doing laundry on a rock with instructions from their mom. Third, they tried their best to be accommodating in any way possible. The funniest time was when one student had done his laundry and gone out to school . The grandmother of the family decided it wasn’t clean enough and washed in all again. I will say no more than that all were well cared for and loved by their families. I will let the students say the rest.

Charlotte

On Sunday, all of us, including our Nicaraguan partners, went to a place called Ojo de Agua. Ojo de Agua is a big pool type thing. We went swimming and there was a rope swing off of a tree that many people went on. There were two pools, one was big, and the other was much smaller. Connecting the two pools was a waterfall that was pretty cool. It was fun going to Ojo de Agua because all the families from the Nicaraguan students came and you could tell they were all excited to be there.

Adriana

I had the opportunity to spend three days with a Nicaraguan family while in Ometepe Island. I was able to experience the Nicaraguan lifestyle at least for those few days. Everyone was very welcoming since the beginning and made me fell like another family member.

The family has a rice field and that’s how they make their living. Early the morning the dad and the boys would go to tend their field, while the girls would do all the house work and cook. The boys would come back at noon and have lunch, and would have the rest of the day free since the kids were on vacation this week. On a regular day however, the boys go to the field in the morning, they come home have lunch and get ready to go to school. That´s when made sense the school hours made sense to me, because they start at 12:30 which gives the student enough time to work before they go to school.

Georgina who is the older sister was the one that spent most time with me. She would sit and have breakfast, lunch and dinner with me. That was one of the most interesting things I noticed that my family didn´t seem to have meals together; everyone sort of ate when they came back from work. Juan was the second to the youngest kid of the family and he has an amazing talent with doing nails. I was lucky enough to get my nails done by him not once but twice, and I have to say all the girls were jealous of me. I also had a great connection with the younger kids; they followed me around everywhere and even went to school with me one day just to hang out. I took advantage of the time I spent with those kids and taught them the colors in English using crayons. They are now able to identify at least 10 colors.

All in all I had a wonderful time with my Nicaraguan family and I have been visiting them even after our home stay was over. I feel like I have made a long-lasting relationship with all of them and I hope to keep in touch with them.

Amy

My home stay was a study in pantomime. We exhausted the few get-to-know-you phrases I could say in Spanish within minutes. Fortunately, the international language of futbol soon eased the uncomfortable silences, and everyone was happy that the US women beat Brasilia. The TV was the centerpiece of the small house, and there was a steady stream of family members and neighborhood children who filled the five seats in the front room, which was half living room, half store. If a football game wasn’t on, it was a Mexican novella (soap opera) or a news show. We ate with plates in our laps in this room, eating delicious food cooked over the wood fire in the dirt-floored kitchen appended to the back of the two-bedroom house. When the power went out on the second day and silenced the TV, in the evening we simply sat around in the dark for a while with long periods of silence. I finally went to bed at 7:30 and read by flashlight for a while. The entire family was asleep by 8:00.

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