By Ashley Ruiz
This past summer, I had the extraordinary opportunity to volunteer with a nonprofit organization in rural Nicaragua. Through the AMIGOS program, I was put in a small home outfitted with dirt floors, wooden board and plastic sheet walls, and a tin roof. There I stayed with an incredibly loving and kind host family of my three (host) brothers, two (host) sisters, and my (host) parents.
When I first arrived in my community, La Grecia, I was terrified and it scared me that the only other Americans and people who spoke English with me were my two partners, whom I had just met two days earlier. However, looking back on how scared I was then, I realize how quickly I fell in love with the local people.
I was in Nicaragua for 6 weeks teaching kids about the environment and safe water during daily workshops given by my partners and I, and also facilitating a community project to inspire community development and youth leadership. Although these things were incredible and great, one of the biggest impacts for me was the spirit of the people. It is so awe-inspiring seeing how happy these people are with what little they have and how willing they are to share what little they do have with you.
The people of La Grecia were so loving and welcoming to us from the very first time we met them, even in greeting us as we passed by walking down the road. I feel living with my host community in Nicaragua has truly broadened my horizon and world perspective and given me a greater appreciation for the things I am blessed with.
Editor’s note – Ashley Ruiz is a senior at Clements High School.