By Kelsey Sundberg, a member of the SkillCorps Nicaragua October 2017 team

Have you ever been to a place so engulfed in culture, passion and pride that you can’t help but want to learn more? A place where history is booming out of each building with the kindest people? Welcome to Nicaragua!

The first weekend, the team ventured around the island shopping, visiting volcanos and a lagoon for some much-needed relaxation before a long week at CIE, the center where we would be spending the next two weeks. To say that I was in a trance with all that Managua has to offer, would not be giving this place enough credit. I couldn’t help but wonder what the center would be like and didn’t sleep much Monday night thinking about all the kids and staff that I would be meeting.

Magli, our driver, who I’ll come back to in a sec, came at 8:15 Monday morning and the excitement overtook the sleepiness I was feeling from the night before. When we pulled up to the center and walked up the steps I was awe stricken by the amount of staff that were roaming around the center, the beautiful play center and Bea, the director of the center who talks a mile a minute. There was so much to see, so many kids to meet and even more staff to get familiar with. The center has 90+ kids, meaning that the staff are always busy, and the kids are always on the go learning something new or singing along with their therapists to and from the park. To put it simply, this is one of the best run centers I’ve been to with only ONE BCBA running the show! With that, she wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of the most amazing support with knowledgeable supervisors, amazing coordinators and adaptive therapists!

Looking around you will see the care that each therapist puts in to each individual child, taking pride in what they do to support each kiddo. Throughout the week I was able to see the flow of the center, watching kids meet goals, staff cheering with excitement and working through some tough behaviors.

It wasn’t until Magli took us to Old Managua, where I was able to see the devotion that drives these people! “My Nicaragua” are the words she spoke as she showed us part of the city’s history, explained their past’s heroes and leaders. The people she spoke about were radicals, that paved the way for change for many of their people. Fighting for freedom, as well as dying for it. These were people she was proud of, a place she was proud to represent, a place she loved deep down inside of her, the place she called home.

Just like Magli called it hers, the staff from the center also called it theirs. The sentiment for their history, for the people around them and the love for the students is evident in the everyday work that the staff puts into each child that walks through the doors. This is their “Nicaragua”, their home and the place for each child to reach their highest potential. 

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