By Victoria Baker (Malone University), from her Nicaragua Journal
I have been thinking a lot about when we were on the remains of the old presidential palace. On one side of the view, you could see the “rich,” “new” Nicaragua. On the other side, you could see the old, poor side of Nicaragua. That didn’t really mean anything until I realized that those images summed up my life, and my experience now.
It was as if I was looking at my own life from above. Here I was, standing on the remains of an old presidential palace, with a “Tree of Life” that shines brighter than hope. I then compared that to my life. Up until now I had this beautiful bubble that I lived in that had no struggles. People would look at the bubble in awe of its beauty, until one day that bubble was popped. The remains are no longer the same and never well be. When I came to Costa Rica is when my bubble was popped. People no longer saw me the same way, because I WASN’T. I stood on these remains and thought about how my world has been flipped upside down. As I stared at the Tree of Life and the statue of Sandino, I realized their meanings. One was big and beautiful, pleasing to the eye, but its meaning was no freedom, less help and no hope. On the other hand, there was a non-appealing, plain statue, but its meaning was one of HOPE! I began to think. When people look at me and try to see the remains of my bubble, will they see a fake but beautiful representation with a hidden meaning, or will they see something dull, and search to see the hope behind it?
I want to be an example of hope to those around me, but for that to happen, I must stand tall against the opposing message that I fight with. The other part of this trip was viewing the two sides of Nicaragua and all I could see was myself. One side had me in my privilege with “Trees of Life” or fake messages everywhere. The other side was me where I am now. This side used to be one of the most beautiful parts of Nicaragua until an earthquake came and took that away. I saw me there. When I first got to Costa Rica, I had only good thoughts about the U.S. and their influence in the world, but once I got deeper into this experience, an “earthquake” hit. All of my thoughts were shaken and some destroyed. I am now in the process of rebuilding my thoughts, but I look as the poor side of Nicaragua did. Less beautiful or full as I was, but stronger now than ever.
This earthquake may have taken away the beauty on the outside or this side of Nicaragua, but the people on the inside have really come out stronger. The only reason that I can say that for sure is because I am now on this side of Nicaragua. I am living with the poor and they are teaching me how to be strong. They are the strongest people I have ever met. So, from that palace visit, I realized that by stepping out of my privilege and onto the side of the “poor,” I can begin to rebuild my bubble with the vision of HOPE and continual knowledge. I am very appreciative that I can stand back and see where I was in life, to where I’m at now. This will aid in the process of rebuilding a new hope.