Written by: Theresa Bailey, Princeton in Latin America Fellow, Comunidad Connect 2015-2017
¿A dónde vas, Esteli? ¡Hay nancite, hay naranja, hay limones! ¡Acércate a boutique 5 Estrellas hoy y aprovecha de la gran liquidación! These are just a few of the many phrases and sounds that fill the space around me here in Nicaragua.
After living in this beautiful country for over a year I’ve learned an important fact: Nicaragua is loud. However, the most relevant skill that accompanies this fact is the ability to be still, slow down and listen to the quiet sounds that flit beneath the overpowering din. When I am still I hear the laughter of my co-workers as we work together on our daily tasks. When I am slow my host sister soothes my stress and builds me up with words I need to hear. When I listen I hear the sincerity and vulnerability that accompanies the ideas we hope will transform our communities.
Working in the field of community development means accepting an inescapable vulnerability. My co-workers, our academic partners, the community members themselves, we are all architects, constructing new environments and structures that we hope will translate into better quality of life and increased opportunities throughout Nicaragua. And like architects, the results of our innovations will only be tangible years after the first thought dared to slip through our lips, uncertain of its reception.
My experiences with Comunidad Connect – planning projects, forming relationships with people unlike myself – are teaching me that vulnerability shouldn’t been seen as a weakness. It is a way to connect with others, a way to be humbled and a way to learn. In my second and final year with this organization I hope to be bold in my vulnerability, allowing the sounds beneath the din to inform my actions and fill my work with purpose. This year I aim to be still, slow down and listen to the quiet sounds that compose the true narrative of mi linda Nicaragua.
*Translations, in order of appearance: 1) Where are you going, Esteli? 2) I have nancite, I have oranges, I have limes! 3) Come to Boutique 5 Stars today and take advantage of our huge liquidation sale! 4) My beautiful Nicaragua.