Part of the academic requirements of SST include journaling three times a week on various topics. Below is a “free choice” journal entry written by Brook, which she agreed to let us share here.
One thing I’ve realized about SST is that it is basically life continued. (A different type of life, but life.) I mean I’m still me, I still have hard days and awesome days, I still “go home” after school and hang out and do my homework. I think I was expecting SST to be this wild/crazy adventure (which in some ways it is – there are ‘wild’ moments) – but one of the treasures about SST is actually the opposite, the chance to slow down life for a while, to have time to reflect on life and on subjects that I really care about. I’ve had time to think and to ponder about God and people and our world. About war, women’s rights (here and in the States), about poverty, and much more. I had personally been aching to give attention to some of these subjects that I care about, but only had time to think about my studies and school stresses. (This realization and reality is a topic in itself…I’m so busy I don’t have time to think? Do I really want to live like that?)
In this way, I’ve enjoyed my time to think and learn about such interesting topics. I enjoy the more relaxed culture, and even the fact that I have time to walk 30 minutes to and from school. I like how resourceful the people are here in Nicaragua. Por ejemplo, (For example), today I saw a car driving with 5 mattresses stacked/tied on top and one smooshed in the back seat…how clever/resourceful. We wouldn’t do that in the United States, we would borrow or rent or use our own trailer or pick-up truck. I’m not bothered by taking bucket showers, or seeing lizards on my wall, or by passing through the market, or waiting for a herd of cattle in the street. I love these things about a third world country and about Nicaragua.
I still have hard days though, mostly due to my language barrier and some social situations. Part of it too, is probably just living with another family, one that is not my own. While my host parents are extremely loving and accepting of me, it is still not my own parents, my own brothers, and my own house. It’s still kind of difficult sometimes, because I cannot explain myself. At the same time though, I’m glad for the experience. It’s good for me to know what is feels like to have a language barrier and to be in the minority. Because of this experience I have much more respect and understanding for people who visit the US, or live in the US from other places. I know how it feels now, I know that just because a foreign exchange student can’t speak English in complete/correct sentences, does not mean that they are unintelligent or that they don’t have real feelings or think about real things. They probably have feelings and worries trapped inside themselves just aching to find an escape. Aching to find someone who is willing to dig past the barriers and discover the person inside. I hope when I return to the US that I can be that person for someone.
Yesterday I came home and was playing with the children in the courtyard. The children in my village here have been a huge highlight. I’ve played games with them now such as Red Rover, Kickball, Tag and others. When I come home now, they immediately see me and yell my name, “Bruks!!” And then want me to play with them.
So basically, there have been many ups and downs on this trip, but I’m overall very thankful for this opportunity. I am learning so much, and I still have 7 more weeks in this country – I’m excited to see what each day will bring.
Brook is a Music Education major.