What Decides a Day in Nicaragua

This past week, a particularly frustrating day led me to have a heart-to-heart with one of my classes. This is hard for me too, I said. I am embarrassed to speak Spanish sometimes, just like you are embarrassed to speak English. I am nervous when I can feel everyone’s eyes on me, and I am uncomfortable when I hear comments about me. I am far from home and miss my family. I am tired. The point was, as I told them, that they have the power to make my day a good one, or a bad one, and that that difference means so much to me. This worked stunningly for a good ten minutes of perfect silence and attention. Afterwards, I started to think about all the things that make for a good or bad Nica day for me.

A bad day is when my students seem to show no interest or respect. A bad day is when catcalls from elementary school boys or grown men can make me feel like I want to disappear. A bad day is when my counterpart dodges my coplanning efforts or wastes our valuable class time. A bad day is a crammed bus, a dusty day, and frustrating work with the weavers. A bad day is when my body rejects gallo pinto to the point of gagging. A bad day is when there hasn’t been internet for a week and I miss my family. A bad day is worse when its unbearably hot and I question how much more I can possible sweat. I’ve had plenty of bad days here in Nicaragua.

A good day is when I get a seat on the bus; a really good day is when I get a seat both ways. A good day is when my host mom brings home tacos. A good day is when my students engage with a lesson or game. A good day might even be if my students laugh with me or ask for extra help. A good day is when my profe and I have a rhythm and coplan successfully. A good day is having a really good conversation in Spanish. A good day is playing with kids and learning something new with the weavers. A good day is a trip to the beach, or to the movies, or anywhere with air conditioning. A good day is great when it rains.

The truth is that I’ve been lucky to have had many more good days than bad, and I’ve had many almost bad days rescued by a good conversation, class, nap, or even smoothie. Even the bad days are good when I can laugh as I complain later or when I recognize my overarching amazing luck to even be here. I am glad for the bad days because it demonstrates what I am placing in the hands of these people and this community: my hard work and liters of sweat and more importantly, my fierce desire to help and empower in a sustainable way.

Kara Fitzgerald ’15