Jumping Right In: Immersing in Nicaraguan Culture

by Jacob Price
Participant, Mitzvah Corps Nicaragua 2013

Wow! Yesterday we started our service project and I am exhausted. When we woke up that morning and were told that we’d be building sidewalks and we might get a little muddy I thought it would be just that – a little muddy. About three hours later I was covered in mud from head to toe and everywhere in between! I feel dirty and gross and I can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow!

Jacob Price, getting muddy in Nicaragua!

Jacob Price (left), getting muddy alongside a fellow local worker in Nicaragua!

The sidewalks we are building are right in front of peoples’ homes and we got to work side by side with them. When we first got there I could tell that they were thinking, “These kids have no idea what they are getting into.” We were all trying to avoid the mud as much as possible, but after a few falls the mud had worked its way up our clothes and we all accepted the fact that we were going home dirty. That made the day much faster and more fun.

I am already learning things that I will definitely take home with me. The locals share an attitude that can only be described as: do what needs to be done, with a smile. While we were carting bags of cement the long way around the water and mud, they simply hoisted the hundred pound bags onto their shoulders and walked through waist deep water laughing at us. After a few trips the long way I said why not, and followed them in. I hope when I go home I can bring their attitude with me. I’m sure they have much more to teach me, so I will be working on my Spanish so I am able to listen.

Now I’m (temporarily) clean and dry and about to eat another delicious Nicaraguan meal. I feel accomplished and am already anxious to start again tomorrow!


Reflections by other teens from Monday, July 8 (day 2, traveling from Managua to El Castillo): 

El Castillo

El Castillo, Nicaragua (view from the San Juan River)

Josie Toubin: Today was our second day on the trip. We arrived in Nicaragua last night and quickly had to adjust to the new, strange culture. I was expecting Managua to be a somewhat modern city but was surprised by the cinderblock buildings that seemed to be everywhere. As we drove through the country today I continued to be shocked by the poverty. We saw countless thin cattle walking along the highway as well as many other sad looking animals. As we traveled on our 3 hour boat ride, my appreciation for everything we have in America grew and grew. I cannot wait to begin our service work tomorrow as I know I will truly be making a difference on this developing country.

Spencer Miller: Today was a long, tiring day. I fell asleep 4 times, and made friends with Rico, our bus driver’s son. We were listening to music on my iPod when we both fell asleep. He ended up leaning on my shoulder! Tired. #laxislife

Rebecca Kruger: I had an amazing first day! Even though the traveling was tough, it was worth it. I’ve already become close with my tripmates. I hope to become immersed in the culture and learn about and aid the local community.



7 Responses to Jumping Right In: Immersing in Nicaraguan Culture

  1. Rob Rubin July 10, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    Wow! This looks like a very special trip. Every time I see your posts and pictures, I get a little teary about what an amazing experience this will be for all of you. I’m sure there will be bonds made here and you will never forget each other. Brennan, I love you and it would be really nice to see some pictures, posts, and emails from you.

  2. Peggy McElgunn July 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Fantastic posts — it is great hearing about all of it. I am certain all of you will have experiences of a lifetime that will only make already great teens to be amazing future leaders!! Maddie, of course we want to hear from you — pics, posts and more when you get a chance!! Dad and I love you mucho (you must be hearing this word a lot these days!!) Hugs and kisses, Mom

  3. Melanie Bober/Les Peterson July 10, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    So proud of all of you! What wonderful teens you all are to be involved in such physical and emotional work. Michael, here comes a great big hug with lots of love from Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa!! Put your mug in a picture!

  4. Julie Porter July 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    We are so proud of all of you, Sam and of all the other participants. Looks like incredibly difficult but rewarding work. I am sure you all are learning some great lessons about yourselves as well as the culture. Tons of love being sent your way. Much love, Mom, Dad, Leah and Weber (p.s. how come you only have one shirt?)

  5. Jackie Gelb-Bicknell July 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    That sure is a LOT of mud! How awesome that you are getting to work with the community in such a real, practical way. Their determination to get the job doneis sure to give you lots of motivation. Its great to hear about your positive spirit for such a challenging job. Thanks for the great stories! Keep them coming! Love you, Rudy!!

  6. Marcy Goldstein-Gelb July 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    There’s nothing better than a little sweat and mud to make you feel at home. I’m so proud of Rudy for jumping head-long into this adventure – and can’t wait to here the stories. Write it all down so you don’t forget.

    Love you,

    Aunt Marcy

  7. Sidney Gelb July 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    I must feel wonderful to see your handywork when you are done. This will be a memory of a lifetime and you should be so proud to be able to commit to tecun olam. Do keep a diary. I love you very much Rudy,


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