Spending time living and volunteering in another country has always been a dream of mine, Iím sure, in part, due to hearing my parentsí Peace Corps stories as a child. While at Reed I volunteered at a domestic violence shelter, with a farm workersí union, and at a community center, all of which reinforced that desire and helped me focus my sights on Central America. I felt an important part of my continuing education was putting myself in a situation that challenged my thoughts and feelings about ethnicity, class, the culture I came from, and the relationship between my country and culture and the rest of the world.
After scouring the local library and canvassing my network of friends and acquaintances for possible ideas, I found and got in touch with a Spanish school run by Sandinista women and a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that does economic development work, both in the mid-sized city of Estelí, Nicaragua. Still without much of a concrete idea of how I would be living for the next year, and with very minimal Spanish, I boarded a plane for Managua.