Jaa Charoenboriboon, a student at EF Academy New York, spent her spring break in March in Nicaragua as part of a volunteer service project through the international non-profit organization “Habitat for Humanity.” Together with her classmates, several faculty members and local construction workers, she helped construct houses for a family in need in Nindirí. This is her experience:
This spring break trip to Nicaragua has made a huge impact on me as I learned more than what I expected. First of all, before the journey started, I didn’t have any ideas about how this trip was going to go. All I thought was that it was going to be boring because I knew nobody going on the trip. However, all my expectations were flipped upside down. As we spent more time together, we became closer without even realizing. It is pretty amazing to become good friends with people in such a short time. I have to partially thank the lack of Internet connection in Nicaragua because it made us stay away from our technology for a week. To be honest, I actually miss the time that we didn’t have cell phones with us because those seven days were the happiest days in my life since I had my first cell phone. I didn’t have to worry about anything and I got to spend my time more wisely. I feel like it was a little escape from the complicated world.
I’m happy not only because I spent time away from technology, but also because I got to meet new people as well. We spent most of the days in Nindirí, the place where we built a house for a family. We stayed in the home of a local resident. I was very glad and impressed with how friendly those local people were. They treated us like we are a part of their community. The most important thing about this trip was building a relationship between the local people and us. What I realized was that we were not the only ones who were helping others, but the local people were helping us as well. They showed us what it means to be a community. They made me realize how close we can be with people when technologies are not around and I also realized that I’ve spent my time worrying about small things that do not matter at all in life.
On the last day that we stayed in Nindirí, those smiles that I saw from the family took away all my tiredness. I feel it was really worth it that I went there. It’s no longer about paying money to come here and help a family, but it is more about the fact that I learned a lot about the real world and myself. I would go back to that place or any place in the world at any time to do this kind of thing again. It was really a memorable lifetime experience for me.
Lastly, I have to tell you: I love Nicaragua’s food so much. Before we got there, I thought that the food was going to be really bad because they only eat beans and rice. However, after I got to try their local food, all I have to say is, I’m in love with it. This, again, has taught me that you shouldn’t judge anything if you haven’t tried it yet.