I was scrolling through pictures on my computer last week and I couldn’t help but think about how thankful I am for my life and the adventures I have been on. There are absolutely no words to describe how grateful I am. The pictures reminded me about all of my adventures all around the world and how each and every one of them has impacted me in a different way.
One trip I want to share with you all is a trip that impacted me in ways that I never could have imagined. In the spring of 2016, I went on a trip to Nicaragua. I went with other students from the University of Oregon through an organization called Courts for Kids.
Courts for Kids has a goal of transforming lives through cultural exchange while building a sports court. Working in Nicaragua was one of the best experiences of my life.
Going to another country is always a little nerve-racking, especially when you are going to stay with community members. I was a little nervous when we arrived in Nicaragua, but as soon as we walked off of the plane and into the airport we were warmly welcomed by Patricia, the lady who started Hope Bilingual Academy, the school we were building a basketball court for. As soon as we got into the van to head to the school, I knew this trip would be one to remember, but little did I know, it would be one of the best trips of my life.
One of the greatest challenges I faced on the trip was the language barrier. At the time, I had studied very little Spanish. There were a few kids who spoke pretty good English, but the majority of the kids spoke very little English. I wanted to talk to them but it was very difficult. There was one kid who I especially wanted to talk to but couldn’t, which made it very difficult for me. His name was Aaron.
Aaron lives alone with his brother Abraham. Their mom and dad both passed away. Patricia informed me that Aaron used to be a misbehaved and difficult child. I was shocked because while we were there, he was the most hardworking and happy kid that I had ever seen. He brought so much joy to everyone around him. I was so impressed with him and I wanted to tell him how amazing he is and to keep up the hard work, but I couldn’t because of the language barrier.
I really wanted to talk with him and listen to his stories and learn more about his life, but I couldn’t. On the last night, Aaron was very sad because we were leaving and was outside laying on the ground by himself. I came over and sat next to him. We tried talking a little but it was extremely hard. I then thought of an idea. That night, I wrote him a letter with everything I wanted to say. The day we left I gave it to him and told him that Corey, the peace corps volunteer, would translate it for him after we left. This made me feel much better because I really wanted him to know that he should be very proud of himself.
The kids in this community were so special. They taught me so much in the short week that I was there. While we were building the sports court (by hand), the entire community, including the children, helped us. They were the most hardworking people I have ever met. I also don’t think I ever saw them without a smile on their faces.
The kids showed us what it’s like to have fun with simple things. Abraham, Aaron’s brother, started singing a song with us called “Hey Burrito.” He would sing the lyrics and then we would repeat them and it was honestly the most fun I had had in a long time. If someone my age were to do that here, everyone would just look at them weird, but while we were there, everyone joined in to create a special moment and memory. Everyone always appreciated the little things in life.
I could talk about my trip to Nicaragua forever, but to keep things short, I think this trip is a great reminder for everyone to make the most out of any situation. A little can go a long way. We don’t need the latest version of technology or the biggest house to have a great life.
I can’t help but smile when I think about the people in Nicaragua and I aspire to be more like them.
I encourage you to write down 20 things you are thankful for. I encourage you to compliment someone today. I encourage you to make the most out of a situation that didn’t go the way you wanted it to. We are very blessed and lucky. Sometimes it just takes something as simple as a picture to remind us.