This post comes from Augsburg student, Kitana H, recipient of the CGEE Religious Studies Scholarship. This is her reflection from the week-long program in Nicaragua, “Faith, Vocation, and Social Change in Central America”. Thank you to Kitana for sharing!
“Today is the day where I touch a region
Where half of me is from
I’ve been so lost with my own identity
That part of this trip may open a page
Of a book of reclaiming my identity and history”
Before coming on this trip, people asked me what do I expect or what do I want to gain out of it? I told them that I don’t make any expectations before anything I do because that ruins the whole experience for me. It’s great for me to just jump into an experience without any high expectations to have more of an impactful experience. I haven’t talked to someone fully about my trip yet but when I make small talk, I respond with saying that ‘it all made sense’.
The reason why I said this is because the culture that I have been surrounded with all my life was present in Nicaragua. It really hit close to home to a home I never been to before. Both of my grandparents on my mom’s side and dad’s side is from Belize, Central America. As I don’t have any contact with my father or his side of the family. I am already missing apart of myself that I don’t wish to discover. With my mom’s side, I learned from my grandparents their history of living in Belize. Their mannerisms, faith, and way of life really stood out to me and made me the person that I am today. My grandparents believed in having a strong relationship with God and their family. They spent most of their lives caring for their children before themselves because they were the main providers. They were living an act of God to serve thy neighbor and love by God’s grace with their family and friends. As well as, always having faith be present in the home and the advice they gave to me. They both lived very simple and didn’t need that much to live a happy life. My grandfather who is still alive, created his home by hand. He makes tables, chairs, shelves, and decorates his home for everyone to feel welcome and himself to be at peace. With being around my grandparents, they taught me how to value family, how to love one another, and be happy with what I have. Even though, I had this experience, I still felt empty. Often people questioned my identity as if I knew myself.
With this, I am still learning by my pace of what it means to be born in the United States but have roots from Central America. That is something that I need to figure out myself and still struggle with others trying to put labels on my identity. Until then, I am grateful I had the opportunity to take Faith, Vocation, and Social Change in Nicaragua with Matthew Maruggi because it felt like home. The food that was made for us is the food that I grew up with. Secondly, people were so nice and accepting with us and this reminded me how my grandmother treated people who came into her home. Thirdly, everyone was so patient with us and this was something that my grandparents had with me and my family. Lastly, this trip motivated me to learn Spanish more fluently because my experience would’ve been even more great if I was able to interact with everyone I met.
One individual that stood out to me was Norland a pottery maker. He turned a piece of clay with his hands into a work of art. This showed me that you can turn nothing into something and be proud of it. The fact that he was so generous to give us his pottery for a low price when each piece takes up to 16 stages to make.
This made me reflect on how I can be generous, not with materialistic items but with my heart. Every person I met on this trip shared their time and their love to all the students. I want to be able to continue to share my time with my friends and family. I get so intertwined with my productive or ‘busy’ schedule that sometimes I forget what it means to sit down with someone and talk about life. Without, having a back thought in my mind of what I need to do for the day.
The action steps toward this is easily to set up one to one’s with people or call and see how they are doing. Even though, a relationship is a two-way street, I am not going to have the thought as to why they do not reach out to me first. It’s easy for us to get selfish in our personal relationships and this is how relationships fail and community relationships fail. From this, I want to spend my time listening and hearing from others around me because that’s how a better community is built.
Augsburg Students can see the full list of upcoming short-term programs at our application portal, the “Global Gateway“