I also lost a button-down shirt, any sense of self-control when it comes to buying pottery, and the preconceived notion that Central America is too different a world to be a part of my own.
Hello, everyone. This is Jeff, writing from Washington, DC, with a final update. I've blogged on a few other occasions about fundraising for the library (see the widget to the right to donate!). Today, I have the pleasure of posting a wrap-up of sorts. You'll please forgive me for not adding any pictures. When I woke up at 4am Nica time (so Central time, but really closer to 4:25am than 4:00am), taking pictures of our travels was not most present in my mind. Failing to do so throughout the rest of the day is largely due to frequent napping.
Today, whatever small portion of it was still spent there for some, was our last day in Nicaragua. Mostly we said our goodbyes last night, as travel plans were...varied. There were a number of destinations for the group leaving at different times throughout the day. A small group of us headed out from the Camino Real Hotel in the wee hours of the morning to depart to DC via Houston. Another group left shortly thereafter for the same destination via Miami. Kelsey left around 4am to catch a bus to El Salvador to meet her husband and his family. David departed sometime this afternoon for Granada in search of a kayak to visit the islands of Lake Nicaragua. Pat and Lily, accompanied by Jane, headed out of Managua in search of new opportunities to bring down classes from the business school at UMD (lookout Smith students, they're comin' for ya). Margaret and Christie left Nicaragua for the US a little later in the day. Somewhere in all of that Peg made it to Missouri and Alesha to North Carolina. Like I said, travel plans varied.
While part of me is ready to be back (this isn't the part that has to start the new semester at UMD on Monday, by the way), another part of me is ready to return to Nicaragua. This was something I was well aware would happen at the beginning of the trip. I knew that I would want to stay. It is easy to point out where the HJH Libraries for All Program is doing well and to see all the good occurring there. It is harder to see all the yet undeveloped potential and not want to explore that with them and remain behind in Nicaragua to participate.
We are all returning home to good things of our own. It has become clear to me that my travel companions are a group of intelligent, talented, fun, and dedicated individuals. I believe they will all go forth and do great things in whatever field they choose. Undoubtedly, though, there is a part of all of us that wants to stay behind and continue our work in Nicaragua – lending books to children in a country where those kids have been overlooked; teaching crafts to students that aren’t given many opportunities for creativity, exploration, or personal inquiry; and sharing with librarians and teachers the things we’ve learned about resources, information, and a personal love for reading, as they share so much with us about their work in return.
This experience will not be easily forgotten by any of us. Regardless of what we do next, we will remember the fortune and misfortune of others that we have seen in a country far distant in geography and culture from our own. All of this is good, for our growth in experience will only lead to a more complete version of ourselves and will permanently contribute to the work that we do.
It has been an amazing trip. I hope, on behalf of the group, that you have enjoyed our ramblings and retellings, pictures, links, and so on. And so, our adventures come to an end. Sort of. Maybe. Okay, not really.
As you can probably guess, there is more to come. There are rumors of trips back to San Juan del Sur this coming summer by some. There are possibilities of building a Friends group for the HJH Libraries for All Program. There's more to be done with the website, more discussion happening with the teachers we met, and other contacts were made in which there will be continued professional development for both those in Nicaragua and our graduate students.
So much has been accomplished and there is still so much left to be done. I don't believe a single one of us got on the plane thinking, "This was great and now I'm done here." We look forward to future prospects and growth based on the work we completed and the great work done by those permanently working in the library. We hope that you'll keep in touch with us, follow our achievements and that of the Libraries for All Program, and eventually choose to participate in what we do.
Again, thanks for reading; for your encouragement; and your support, emotional, financial, and otherwise. You'll be hearing from us again soon, don't you worry.