by Mateo Gomez
Today marks the completion of my first week back at work. It was exciting, exhausting, and all the emotions in between. While it was a bit of an adjustment from relaxing at home all day, I have to admit that it was rewarding to finally be productive again. Having a vacation period gave me just the energy I needed to come back with more determination for the rest of the semester. Something I didn’t realize I missed so very much about where I work, are the daily hugs that the kids give me. I even got hugged by some of our new students, which was especially motivating.
When I think about how this week went by, it hits me that the first month of this year is almost over. Now more than ever, I find myself conscious of just how short my time here in Nicaragua really is. While I’d like to say that my days will always consist of playing with kids and joking around with my host family, I recognize that my time here is coming to a close.
This semester, more than ever, I find myself reevaluating what it means to be productive. When I first came, I arrived with the mentality of constantly achieving something. I would constantly look for tasks to do, try to engage the kids in lots of activities, and if all else failed I’d start cleaning. While this very quality is very valued in the U.S. workforce, I’ve come to understand that building relationships here matters so much more than anything else.
If I were to reflect on my most “successful” moment from this week, it’d be sitting around talking with one of the older kids from my work. He was the last kid left, so I decided to strike up a conversation with him. We ranged on topics from family life, to dreams and goals for the future. Our conversation ended up spanning more than two hours, and though the work site had already closed, we hung around and continued talking. I wasn’t necessarily getting a certain task done, yet I feel that in this moment of conversation and bonding, I was achieving so much more than I normally do at work.
Being in Nicaragua, I’ve learned so much more about connecting with other people. I’ve come to cherish the moments where I’m doing absolutely nothing but talking with other people. As I think about coming back home to the states, I hope I never let the pursuit of success prevent me from taking the time to bond with others.