Group Bonding in Matagalpa

By Anna Reed

We embarked on our journey, starting with orientation. The moment we all sat down together, a sense of relief fell over all of us when we realized how amazing each individual in our group is.

Everyone brings something unique to the group in light of our diverse backgrounds.

Jon’s personality radiates positivity and he has been kind enough to share his love for music with the group. Cate has been extremely patient and always surprises us with fun facts about nature. Whenever Jillian comes around, her laugh brightens up the room and becomes contagious. And, of course, every group has that one guy with an incredible sense of humor—Bradley is that guy. In Maggie’s overly-large bag, she doesn’t only have sixteen shirts, but she also carries around mounds of joy and a great smile. Tori is a very small girl with a personality twice her size. Despite her injury, she has been extremely optimistic and it’s been inspiring to the rest of the group. Kindness and compassion are the best words to describe Ellie; she is a delight to be around. Katie is down-to-earth and is one of those people I can’t wait to know more about. Even though PJ has not taken a single Spanish class, he is my go-to translator and has been so helpful in many situations. I never realized how little I knew about automobiles until I met Dylan. His passion for anything with wheels is awesome and he is always ready to share his knowledge. Jimmy is remarkably intelligent and a total joy to be around. As you can tell, our group is made up of strong individuals that make us a very compatible bunch.

Our first destination was Martina’s Place hostel in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Here, we had the opportunity to share a small living space bringing us closer together. We ended orientation with a closing ceremony, sharing with each other our goals and fears for this semester. We openly discussed these without any hesitation. After the closing ceremony, we then jumped right into our activities. Monday was our first day of class at Colibri Spanish school. We were divided into groups of two-to-four, based on our previous knowledge of the language. The classroom was in an outdoor setting and was very attentive to our individual learning needs. After our first day of class, we were then introduced to our new temporary host families. We were partnered off and sent on our way. None of the host families spoke any English, so it was full immersion. We were invited into their homes and treated like one of their own children.

Each day we set out on a new adventure. Whether it was a day trip to the market, cooking class, or a trek, we were in constant motion. Every day we would find a small period of free time to explore the city of Matagalpa on our own. This definitely brought some challenges to the surface; mainly language barriers. After just a week, we have really gotten a feel for the city just in time to change locations.

Tomorrow we will travel to Penas Blancas. Not only are we starting a brand new journey, but we are also meeting our new group member, Jake. We are very excited about this addition and can’t wait to see what he brings to the table. Overall, it was a fantastic week spent with even better people. We are so ecstatic to see what this semester holds for all of us.

Much love to all our friends and family back home.