By Maggie Chan, University of Windsor Trip Participant, Laguna Seca, Nicaragua
Sometimes, I feel as though I can’t quite explain in words the experience that was Nicas 2014. It’s hard to believe that it happened about half a year ago. Amazing is a good adjective, but I feel as though it still doesn’t cover the immense amount of emotions I have about it to this day. I often leaf through my SOS journal and re-read the memories and quotes I wrote down, and it brings a smile upon my face to think of each and every one of them. In short, I miss it … and adding the words “a lot” is an understatement of that.
The names of the children we met and played with often come to me in euphoric recollections throughout my daily life and routines: Darwin, Ulises, Yarelis, Malisa, Dory, Melvin, Kevin, Cesar … and so many more. It was so enlightening to see that despite a language barrier, the mutual pleasure and enjoyment of each other’s company needed no translation and it was perfectly communicated by the smiles on our face and the laughs we shared. The simplest things evoked these, from watching them play around the yard while cheerfully greeting us to having morning reading fests with them on the steps outside.
Everyone in the community warmly welcomed and embraced us with heartwarming kindness; it made me think of a L.M. Montgomery quote from Anne of Green Gables that says, “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” The amount of love I have for Laguna Seca will always remain with me, and its community of kindred spirits will always be on my thoughts in whatever I do. I’ll never forget when an older community member came up to me and expressed his happiness towards us hosting English lessons and our overall work with the project, explaining how grateful the community was for us. I told him in a rather emotional response that we were the ones who were truly grateful, for having such an opportunity to meet wonderful people and to be a part of such a deserving project.
While we’re on the subject of kindness, this was only further exemplified with the displays of selflessness and generosity I witnessed by my fellow Team Nicas members. I didn’t have a great knowledge surrounding the people I’d be going on the trip with, but by the end, I can’t imagine having went with any other people but them. We worked seamlessly in cooperation and determination, bonded impeccably, and pushed ourselves and each other through personal growth that we’d never known before. I’m thankful for having had the chance to get to know each and every one of them and I know that we’ll always have this trip marked down as one of the best moments of our lives.
The amount of perspective you get from an SOS trip is unlike any other. It helps you come to the realization about the little things, the things you take for granted, and just how there is so much in the world out there beyond your comfort zone within your daily life. It has helped me prioritize what matters to me most and has further motivated and inspired me to continue involvement with a fantastic organization. Still doubting on whether or not you should do it? Don’t think. Just do it — I promise that you won’t regret it.