by Anna Broadmerkel
Three weeks in Matagalpa and I already love it. Actually, I knew after just one week that I loved it. Matagalpa feels like home; I have a busy schedule, a fun and loving family, and a great circle of friends, and an awesome and well-organized organization. I honestly couldn’t ask for more.
A large organization, Familias Especiales helps over 700 families. There’s many volunteer opportunities within the organization, such as the classes for children (Rayitos) and women (Progreso) with disabilities, the yogurt and granola business, the wheelchair recycling center, the recycling center for paper and crafts, and various other projects with families in the area.
I work with Rayitos, the class for children with disabilities. Class is Monday-Friday, 8-12, and there are approximately 25 students. Mondays, most of the children go to horse therapy, which they all love. Tuesday through Friday the children are broken into two tables, pre-academic and academic. Pre-academic focuses on developing fine motor skills, gross motor skills, recognition skills, language skills, and following directions. The children practice animal names and sounds, walking in a straight line, stretching, coloring, cutting and tearing paper, matching, and other similar activities. The academic group is more advanced and practices writing, mathematics, telling time, and more advanced motor and language skills. I assist with the pre-academic class, the group similar to the children I worked with in Ghana. A large portion of time is spent on trying to keep the kids seated and focused, but we all have a good time!
After Rayitos, I have Spanish lessons at Colibri Spanish School, where my host sister works. Colibri isn’t your usual school, which I love about it. The classes are outside, the teachers are incredible, there are hammocks to relax in, plants dominate the space, and beautiful paintings decorate the walls. I take two hours of Spanish classes a day during the week, and my Spanish has improved by leaps and bounds, but I still have a long way to go.
After Spanish class, I help teach English at Colibri or with another small organization. I’ve never taught English before, but I enjoy helping the people who help me learn Spanish. I’m starting to realize how difficult English is to learn, and here, there aren’t many people to practice with at all. All my students are adults and understand the importance of English and the opportunities that come with learning the language.
After English class(es), I return home to my family. I have a host mom, Eunice (48), an older sister, Lussiana (28), and a nephew, Bryan (6). My mom has to be one of the best cooks in Matagalpa, seriously. Every meal is amazing. Eunice is so kind and caring and I know she sees me as her own child. Now that my Spanish is improving, we can have basic conversations, which I find wonderful. Lussiana is my sister and best friend. She has helped me find my way here and connected me with countless other friends, making my time here a blast! Not to mention she’s just as loca as I am, which results in lots of laughs and smiles. Bryan is the coolest. We have multiple tickle fights everyday, practice math, color, and play with his remote control helicopter. I’m my family’s first homestay, and I think it’s working out pretty great.
Life in Matagalpa is tranquila, calm/serene. I don’t have many worries, and I take it day by day. The “worst” part may be the car alarm that goes off in the middle of the night and the countless cat calls of “Mi amorrrr” or “Ohhh Chelitaaa” in the streets. I’m tranqulia, Matagalpa is tranquila, so you can be tranquila, there’s no need to stress.
One of my favorite students, Magdiel
Eunice, my mom
Bryan, my nephew
Lily y Lu
(amiga y hermana)