It is the night before supervisor survey, and all are asleep. The rocking chairs at staff house in the tiny town of Teustepe are empty, silenced by supervisor slumber, still in a circle formation from this afternoon’s training. The crickets chirp, and the frogs hiccup, and there is enough moonlight to leave most of the lights off. A broken coconut sits on a table in the middle of the rocking chairs, having been enjoyed earlier as an after dinner treat.
Tomorrow morning at 6 am, youth from twenty seven Boaqueno communities will pour into Teustepe. Like the supervisors, they will come full of anticipation and excitement. For some of these youth, this will be the first time they learn about Amigos, while others will take a lead role facilitating activities, having participated with Amigos in years past. Together, after a breakfast of coffee and bread, we will play name games and “Amigos Mission Twister,” where instead of tangling your limbs on red, blue, and yellow dots, youth will tangle each other between Youth Leadership, Community Development, and InterCultural Understanding. Then come the games. Alberto, our Promotor of Liderazgo Juvenil, and Rita, our staff intern, will lead an endless array of silly, high energy games. Once we’ve been silly enough, youth will settle in with supervisors to discuss community routes, supervisor survey, CBIs, and host families. After lunch, and a few more games, the supervisors will head off in buses with youth from their communities to set up summer work plans, sip coffee with host moms, talk project plans with local youth, and introduce themselves to community leaders. It is a big moment, supervisor survey, and one we meet with healthy anticipation and endless excitement- a week full of stories waiting to be told, discoveries about to happen, friendships waiting to blossom.
Tomorrow is also the final packing meeting for Nicaraguan youth who will participate as volunteers. As the time draws close for the thirteen youth who will be full fledged vols, we are gathering mosquito nets and making sure everyone has water bottles. Two weeks ago, I had the priveledge to train these brilliant young people as they took the first steps of their Amigos Vol adventure. I was floored with the thoughtful ways in which they engaged with ideas about community development, and inspired by the depth to which they understand and think about the AMIGOS mission. These young people have been inspired by former volunteers in their communities and have learned about our programming in their own communities. They bring a unique perspective, bounds of youthful energy, and a genuine commitment to partner with communities in their own country to make the world a better place. I’ve been especially proud of Darling, who was a volunteer last year in Boaco, and is heading to Ecuador this summer. Darling spoke eloquently about the challenges of being a volunteer in her own country during the training, guided her peers through conversations about feedback and partner relations, and did an incredible job of teaching some truly hilarious songs and ice breakers to this years’ Nicaraguan vols.
While supervisors are in communities, Senior Staff and I will spend the next few days getting permission slips signed for our Nicaraguan vols, and we will spend the evenings the way I like best- chatting about the day with our dear friend Maribel, sliding back and fourth in rocking chairs and eating freshly picked mangoes while we talk about life. What’s about the time I have spent here- about being able to watch dreams take shape in the form of Nicaraguan volunteers, or Bevil grants, or community plays, or radio shows broadcast on local networks- is really, at the end of the day, the relationships. The friendships with people like Maribel, that began over youth encuentros and sweet coffee and the trials and tribulations of getting the correct CBI supplies delivered to the correct communities grow to wind themselves deeply into our lives, changing who we are, what we will become, where we will end up. I cannot imagine a more special moment to witness, than the beginning of one of those relationships that winds itself around your heart so deeply. That, precisley, is what will begin tomorrow for the supervisors in their communities, and the youth they will work with. It is what will begin in nine days, when volunteers step off of the bus or plane and walk into briefing, it is what begins when Darling goes to Ecuador and her peers fan out into communities all over the country to be volunteers. And now that it is all quiet at staff house, supervisors sleeping, training materials stacked neatly in the corner, crickets chirping, moon lighting the porch there is only a few hours left, only a matter of moments before the sun is up and the town is bustling with young leaders about to change the world.