Karin Scott is the Program Manager at Allowance for Good. She recently returned from traveling with Spark Ventures and Allowance for Good youth to Nicaragua on our August Partnership Trip. Karen wrote these reflections on day 3 of the trip, and agreed to share them here on our blog.
As our Spark Ventures and Allowance for Good travelers reflected on their second day at Las Tías we were asked to finish the phrase “Together we…” My chosen phrase stems from my connection with my partner, Muriel. Muriel is a bright, big-hearted, eight-year-old girl who I have spent my mornings with at Las Tías.
My two mornings with Muriel have involved simple words, smiles, hugs, and lots of high fives. Through the exchange of “hola”, “que linda”, and “muy bien” we learned our ages, favorite school subject, preferred colors, and future aspirations. We drew pictures, played math flashcards, and tossed a frisbee countless times. In our few hours of interaction we have probably exchanged the same short phrases dozens of times. I point and say a word in English, and ask “en español?” She responds with the Spanish equivalent, and so it goes. But with each repeated phrase comes another smile, another high five, increased trust, and reciprocity.
Our interactions have been short and simple. But on the second day when Muriel greeted me with a hug, a smile, and a loud “Hola!” I felt like in some small way, we had reached reciprocity. We have exchanged languages, games, and laughs for our mutual benefit. My hope is that we have benefitted in equal ways, that Muriel week was brighter because I was a part of it, as I know my short time with her has opened my eyes and shifted my perspectives in new, challenging, and hopeful ways.
My connection with Muriel opened my eyes to the ways in which we can connect on a common human level, beyond the use of language. I was amazed by the way we were able to communicate with each other by only sharing a few words. During my second day with Muriel, I was pleasantly surprised by how much she wanted to spend time to me. The shyness of yesterday melted away into a budding friendship. As a fellow trip participant so accurately stated, “You are only a stranger once.” Muriel, and the other children of Las Tías, will forever remain in my heart.