Breaking Barriers in Managua, Nicaragua

3 minute read

Throughout my time with Manna Project International, I learned that committing yourself to a cause, to a goal, to a community, is what creates true change both on a personal level and on a development level. Stepping outside your comfort zone and entering an unfamiliar place is both scary and exciting. It is thrilling yet uncomfortable. But it has been the people I have met who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home that contributed most to my inspirational year.

Hearing people in my community greet me and seeing kids running toward me with open arms is a warmer, more gratifying feeling than anything; it means acceptance. Being accepted in a community that is so different from mine shows the true possibility of global relationships. Together, we have broken language and cultural barriers, created partnerships, and collaborated to better the communities in which we both live.

The Christianson Fellowship made everything possible. The support from such an amazing foundation allowed me to become an inspired, passionate, and determined nurse – determined to create true change. This past year, I was able to help create a health promotion program, focusing on the importance healthy lifestyles (e.g. better nutrition, exercise, and diabetes and hypertension prevention education).

Additionally, I taught an adolescent girls’ health class that focused on hygiene, sex education, and women’s empowerment initiatives, such as breaking the chain of machismo. I taught an English class in which I saw my students’ lives change as it opened up more job opportunities. I participated in a child nutrition program that supported malnourished children in one of our communities. I supported our women’s jewelry cooperative that focused on women’s empowerment, their economic independence, and professional development. I was able to make an impact like this thanks to the Christianson Fellowship. I also could not have done any of this without the help, commitment, and collaboration of the communities of Cedro Galan, Chiquilistagua, and Villa Guadalupe.

What a year it has been, full of strange experiences, delicious food, and incredible people. I am confident that this experience has fostered the relationships and professional development skills necessary to be a successful and culturally competent nurse. It has inspired me to be an advocate for change, an advocate for all patients and their families, and an advocate for lasting global relationships. Breaking barriers and fostering deep cultural relationships will forever be a goal of mine. Thank you, InterExchange, for the Christianson Fellowship, which provided me the opportunity to be changed, to be inspired, and to be determined to always keep learning. Thanks for a year I will never forget!

Natalie B. By

Natalie volunteered in Managua, Nicaragua with the help of a Christianson Fellowship, from the InterExchange Foundation.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
The International Coalition for Global Education and Exchange
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation