¡Nos vemos, Diriamba!
I can’t believe I’ve already been back in the States for a week. It almost feels weird to say that I’m home when for the last seven months I have called Diriamba, Nicaragua home, and not just called it that but truly felt it as well.
I arrived to Diriamba in January in a microbus with my luggage and two phone numbers. I didn’t know much about the town nor did I know anyone who lived there, so I was a little apprehensive during that first hour spent waiting by el reloj (or el rolex as some of the locals call it). If I had any idea how the next couple of months were going to unfold, I definitely wouldn’t have been as anxious as I was.
From the very beginning, everyone accepted me as one of their own. I felt like just another son, brother, nephew and grandson with my host family, another part of the team of volunteer educators at the APAN youth center, and another member of the faculty in the schools where I taught. Whenever there were birthdays, school presentations, or events at APAN, they always invited me, and I was always more than happy to lend a hand. I am and will be forever grateful for these displays of hospitality.
In my responsibilities as coordinator, I encountered the same positive attitude. All of the schools’ principals and teachers were thrilled to be collaborating with One, Two… Tree! We really could not get the volunteers to arrive fast enough! In Diriamba, English classes are only offered in private and secondary schools, so offering these classes for the first time in the public primary schools was a really big deal for everyone involved. The students of Diriamba were so excited when their first English teachers started to arrive and almost heartbroken when their time came to depart.
Our volunteers were great as well. The majority came with little experience in teaching, but none of them lacked the work ethic and enthusiasm necessary to get the job done. We had volunteers managing a classroom full of kids their very first day! When not teaching, some even helped out with painting the wall that surrounds APAN, one of the secondary projects sponsored by One, Two… Tree! They were also very adaptable. I’m proud to say that our volunteers didn’t have any problems that we couldn’t solve during my stay in Diriamba.
I really wish I could have stayed longer. I believe it was Henry David Thoreau who said “Don’t hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.” And I did love the work I did in Diriamba. I seemed to always be busy, whether I was in class or visiting host families, in meetings at the schools or answering emails, and I always enjoyed it. I also was able to meet and work with some really great people. Each day brought a new challenge, but also a new adventure. I can say with perfect honesty that I would not trade my sojourn in Diriamba for any salary.
This experience was truly once-in-a-lifetime and I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Pedro and One, Two… Tree! for offering me the opportunity to volunteer and to everyone associated with APAN who made my time in Diriamba unforgettable.
Patrick “El Chele” Beauchamp