Friday, January 30, 2009

Post-Trip Reflections: Kristi Saeger

Day 7 or 8 of my time in Nicaragua was by far the hardest. By then, I had been in the Central American country for approximately one week; I had become accustomed to washing out of a sink sans soap and spraying insecticide under my bed nightly for scorpions and other nightly critters that may be lingering, waiting to pounce on my vulnerable, non-immune and sleeping body. I was days away from my flight out of Miami to Managua, and just days from my return, however both felt like a lifetime from where I stood on Day 8.

One of the reiterated themes from ex-patriots and other foreigners to Nicaragua was the fact that one could spend weeks, months, or years amidst the culture and people of Latin America, but would never truly and completely feel part of their society. As many times as I could possibly eat gallo pinto in one single day, (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack?), or watch the Gigantorro and Pepe perform in the streets, neither would ever fully integrate into my instinctual livelihood. Gallo pinto would never provide the same nostalgia as my mother's homemade ravioli or my dad's french toast, and falling asleep knowing there was a fairly high chance that the drums of the Gigantón performance would startle me in my sleep did not compare to the same effect from the loud music of the Macy's Day Parade, whatsoever. It would take years to become more than an appreciative observer to the Nicaraguan society, and by the eighth day, I couldn't decide my personal stance.

With time, the transition from the bright white walls, floors, countertops, paper towels and toilet paper of the United States was slowly fading, and the routine of waking up to the melodramatic chaos of 15 or more people constantly flowing in and out of the house/on and off of the premises, became preferable to waking up during winter break from school to emptiness and no one's company other than my own while my parents work or run errands or go shopping. Even at school, it is not often that I start my day with my roommates and best friends; our schedules are so jam-packed and busy that we do not have the time to see each other until late in the evening, and often by then we are all exhausted. Was the Nicaraguan way of life better or worse than what I was used to? After one week of immersion, I could no longer be so sure.

The economic and social conditions of the developing world are difficult to witness without feeling the sudden urge to get out there and help in any way you can; however, I have come to discover that these people possess so many qualities that we seem to have lost as citizens of the American society; most importantly of all, the ability to become close to one another, open-minded and accepting of differences, and completely dependent on the presence of friends and family. It is all of these things that create life, create memories, and a reason to push on, despite the hardship and suffering that may exist. This is what we lack as privileged civilians. This is what I have learned from Nicaragua and I will take it with me where ever I may go beyond Gettysburg College.

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My name is Kristi Saeger and I am in my final year of studies at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, USA. I have studied Economics and International Affairs while at Gettysburg, and hope to work for an embassy after graduation. I love to travel; I have visited Europe and the Caribbean, and lived in Australia for a 5 months during my college years. I love to read and enjoy solving all kinds of puzzles. I prefer warm weather over the freezing temperatures of the Northeast USA any day. I appreciate all medias of art but enjoy pop art the most. I have one sister, one niece, a dog and cat at home - I love them all very much! (Especially my niece- she is only 8 months old!).

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