For our last holiday season in Nicaragua, we wanted to be at home in Esteli and spend Christmas and New Years Eve like most Nicaraguans do: in family. We had two main goals, one of for each holiday. For Christmas I wanted to try the seasonal dish lomo relleno, and for New Years Eve Emily wanted to make our own viejo. Continue reading Home is Where the Holiday Is
Dearest friends and family,
When we joined the Peace Corps in 2014, we never thought we’d be this comfortable and at home in a foreign country. Yet throughout our 27+ months and extension we’ve slowly come to understand and embrace our Gringo Pinolero identities.
Like any year, 2016 brought it’s own ups and downs.
We grew closer to our friends and host families here, but we also greatly missed our loved ones back home. So we visited home – once to IL (for a funeral) and once to OR (for a birthday/GRE). And we hosted so many (11) different friends and family members! Showing them our Nicaragua has been an honor and we hope that they now understand a bit more why we love it so much.
We experienced two national elections – of our host and home countries – through a lens we’ve never had before. It was quite the experience to be abroad during an election year.
We worked hard and earned our keep. One of our PC Nicaragua staff members says that the longer we’re here, the more qualified we’ll feel to dive deeper into our work. Now that we’re almost done, we keep thinking of new projects that we could do if only we had the time.
And we’re starting to feel that pressure of time. So we’re taking as many pictures as we can, celebrating small moments, and striving to live into the intentions we set to aprovechar our time left in Peace Corps.
Life is full of comings and goings, of challenges and lessons, of transitions and blessings. We embrace what we can, while we can, and strive to have the lessons we’ve learned from our journey guide our way on. That is what we wish for you this holiday season, and for ourselves in the (big transition) year to come.
Feliz navidad y prospero año nuevo.
Love and light,
Emily and Andrew
Two years ago, we began a tradition in our family that would allow us to celebrate the holiday season no matter where in the world we found ourselves. After 2014 and 2015, we figured we were getting the hang of this 12 Days of celebration and fun, but this year Nicaragua threw us a curve ball. ACCESS Camp (the annual intensive English camp we’ve helped with the past two years) dates were changed from January to right before Christmas, so we had to be creative. Nevertheless, our 12 Days were spent remembering to celebrate the small things, to be thankful for what we have, and to invite spontaneous joy into our lives.
The 12 Days of [Nilsen] Christmas 2016
We may be all spread out now as the PCVs in our group have now all returned to the US, but we’re still sending good vibes your way. #TEFL64 #ourextentionbellringingwillbeherebeforeweknowit
I had the pleasure of giving a charla (workshop) a few weeks ago with one of my counterparts to the new group of Peace Corps Trainees and their new counterparts they’d just met. The charla was about how we can work together as Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTS) and Non-Native English Speaking Teachers (NNESTS) to both be better teachers. Peace Corps LOVES acronyms…can you tell? haha!
At one point during the session, Ana Cecilia and I were to share our prepared remarks about what we’ve learned from each other these past two years and how working together has made us better teachers. We practiced and had it all planned out…..until we both broke down crying trying to share in front of close to 60 people. It was embarrassing. It was heart-warming.
I’m not ready to say goodbye yet…and that hit me hard in the middle of this session. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to get to work with amazing teachers like Ana Cecilia, and feel beyond honored to have her say that I have forever changed her teaching and her life for the better.
September’s Photo Challenge from Blogging Abroad helped us focus in our our town – Estelí, Estelí. While our other photos are from all around Nicaragua, this challenge was completed just with pictures from our site. May these photos give you a glimpse into the beauty, complexity, and wonder that is Estelí.
Blogging Abroad Photo Challenge:
Hanging out with Los Vásquez is always a good time, but for Doña Edita’s birthday we decided to take it up a notch and gift them all nose flutes. If we’re honest, there may have been more laughter than music going on, but we wouldn’t have changed it for the world.