Without Winter Term, I would have missed out on one of the best experiences of my life.
Winter Term will continue for the 2014-2015 school year, but its future beyond that is still to be determined.
Before my experience in Nicaragua, I was fairly indifferent to whether or not Winter Term would be a part of the Graceland experience. Yes, I recognized that it gave students a chance to form a deeper bond with other people on campus. Yes, I also knew it was important to those who were seeking out internships or practicums for their individual majors.
All of those reasons and more were why I empathized with fellow students who felt crushed at the possibility of this opportunity being taken away from them. However, I also understood that certain complications have begun to arise in keeping Winter Term. You can read in more depth about these issues here.
The question then is, what has changed?
It will come out sounding cliche when I tell you that everything has changed. In life, sometimes we come across what some call the “ah ha!” moments. In those moments we have epiphanies. We feel a surge of inspiration, passion, and we get a glimpse of what it means to have a positive impact in the world.
Over Winter Term I was blessed to get an “ah ha!” moment.
During my time in Nicaragua, one of the topics that was raised in discussion was how everyone keeps asking, “What are you building there?” Before I left to go on Winter Term, I was flooded with questions from family members and friends at home who were genuinely interested in what I was going to be doing for the next two weeks.
My response? I went to learn. To be even more specific, I did not go to build, preach, or teach. I simply went to learn. As a culture we are driven to see results, and we want tangible things to help prove there was some level of success. My intent in going to Nicaragua was to not leave anything behind; instead I took back valuable lessons about community, love, patience, and other less tangible things.
A popular phrase that was used by the Alcance Nicaragua staff was, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
The group that traveled to Nicaragua quickly learned that in order to find success, you have to learn to work with other people. It is incredible to see the change that can be made when a group comes together and is committed to a greater good.
For example, we had the privilege of visiting a community by the name of El Tunel. In this community, members had organized themselves and were able to start a roof project that helped thirty different homes. Along with their roof project, they also have improved the structure of their school, and many are learning how to run small businesses out of their homes. El Tunel is just one example of the incredible work that is being done in Nicaragua.
I cannot think of a better way to spend my Winter Term than how it was spent in Nicaragua. Through that experience, I reflected deeply about the type of culture in which I live and what I am willing to do to in the future to make a change that promotes a more sustainable world.
At the end of the day, that is what Graceland University’s Winter Term is all about. It is about life lessons and having the opportunity to embrace new experiences that open our students to a new way of thinking and allow us to expand our image of the world. And that, my friends, is priceless.
There are not enough words to express how grateful I am that I was able to be a part of the Nicaragua site visit for Winter Term 2014. If you would like to hear more about this incredible journey, please chase down anyone from the trip and ask them about it.
Also, if you would like to be committed to a world without poverty, you can be a part of Outreach International Club on campus! We meet every Thursday at 8:00 PM in the South America Room.