I’m going to mix things up a little for today’s blog. I’ve invited my daughter, Alexis, to write about her recent experience and how it has changed her. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. Let me introduce Alexis……..
“I am writing this today as a changed person. As cliché as that might sound, I know deep in my heart that I am not the same person I was a week ago. This past week I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Nicaragua on a Medical/Public Health Global Brigades trip through Saint Louis University. Going into it, my intention was being able to see a different part of the world as a replacement for studying abroad. However, I started questioning my decision the nights before, because I had just realized that I had no idea what I had just gotten myself into. I was going to be traveling to a third world country with no phone service and people I hardly knew. I was always one to stay in my comfort zone, so for me, this was a huge step.
Once we arrived in Nicaragua, we drove to the place where we would be staying, known as our compound. This compound didn’t have clean water, had cold showers, and I was sleeping next to spiders every night. However, we were still given 3 meals a day and the conditions we were living in, as bad as they sound, were much better than the members of the community we were working with.
As much as I would love to write a novel about this trip, I will keep it as short as I can. While we were in Nicaragua, we set up a medical clinic where we worked with 4 Nicaraguan General Practitioners, 2 Gynecologists, and 2 dentists, who barely spoke any English. Through the 3 days that we worked there, we had seen over 1,000 patients, which is unheard of in the United States. We then had 2 days of Public Health where we build 4 latrines and laid down concrete floor for a house. These latrines were going to last these families 20-30 years and we were able to build it for them in a simple day and a half.
Reflecting back on my experience in Nicaragua, I have grown to learn so much about myself. I have realized that you can survive happily with the basics such as food, water, and a roof over your head. As much as I missed my life style at home in the US, it was a much more peaceful way of living in Nicaragua. The people were so much more laid back and genuinely happy than people in the U.S. are. It completely blew my mind that people would walk for over an hour in the 90-degree heat just to receive a small dose of Advil. But never once did they complain. Being immersed in this culture has given me such a better appreciation of life and the gifts we are given. The community has shown me what it is like to be truly happy, and that is a gift I am going to be eternally grateful for. After this past week, I have built a better sense of confidence, something I have always lacked. I was able to get in touch with myself and my inner thoughts and feelings in a way that helped me realize exactly the person I want to become. There are no words to describe how unbelievably incredible this past week has been. I am no longer the person I was before I left on my trip. I am a better, happier, more confident version of myself and I have the beautiful country of Nicaragua to thank for that.
After having this experience, I would just like to give a couple pieces of advice. STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. As much as we have all heard this before, I am first-hand experience that it is an incredible feeling to have the confidence to finally do something I am not comfortable with and see the amazing results. It truly is life changing when you decide to take that first big step. Doing so has made me so much more confident in many aspects of my life. On a different note, from this experience, I now realize how important it is to really appreciate the things we have in life. We have all seen pictures of third-world countries in magazines or on the news, but seeing it in person makes it that much more real. I have been in the communities where they live on only a few dollars a day, and they might only have one meal a day. While not all of us are able to be there in person, listening to others experiences and really paying attention to the fact that we are as lucky as we are will give you SUCH a better outlook on life. It will make you happier because you can appreciate everything so much more and realize just how extremely lucky you are. It really puts your problems into perspective.
Overall, this trip has taught me the importance of looking not only at your culture, but others as well. Even though they live so much differently, they are people just like we are. We are people helping people, and once you realize that simple fact, your perspective on the world will change drastically.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my experience, and I appreciate all the support I have received.”