My apologies for the gap in blogging. If you don´t care to hear my reasons, which actually do explain a lot of how I´m doing lately, you can skip this paragraph. Firstly, I like to think that with six months left in Nicaragua, I´m more involved in the reality here, and less connected to computers. I also limit my time online and on computers because it helps me lead a simpler, more intentional lifestyle. But I´ve also not blogged recently because I´ve been in a whirlwind of thoughts about privilege, race, and my role here. Some day I´d like to be able to express these questions in a precise blog.
But because I´m still too ¨in it¨ to blog about it, for now, here are some moments of privilege that have hit me recently. Moments like these, and many more, are transforming me in Nicaragua.
- When I return in December, I´ll be thinking, ¨How wonderful were those two years with the poor of El Recreo.¨ But I´ll be saying that while surrounded in comfort. I don´t think the majority of my friends here would say, ¨Oh, how wonderful my whole life in El Recreo.¨ Would I say that if I knew I´d be spending the rest of my life here?
- I made friends with an English-speaking 27-year-old, a kind, gentle young man. He is very different from the aggressive, sexually charged young men I encounter on a daily basis. Every day I pass his house on the way to work and see him with his mother. When I see them, both of them leap to their feet and invite me in. They´ve also invited me to a wedding and a quinceañera. His mother even shoves him towards me when we´re together. Yes, we´re friends now, and I am grateful for our times together. But what was the fundamental reason for the way they´re treating me? The color of my skin. He would not have sought me out otherwise.
...The truth is that I will never be Nicaraguan. I will never be fully received. I will never experience the truth of this poetic fire of a place, because my view is tainted by the culture that has formed me...
I say that I have come to unlearn some of what I grew up around. That is my heartfelt intention. Consumerism. Individualism. Pride. Comfort. As a JV I supposedly try to leave those things behind and follow people who live more in line with the Gospel. But by spending thousands of dollars to fly here and be among these people, I am merely perpetuating the privileges I have tried to leave behind? Is my presence like that of any other rich white person amid less rich non-white people, regardless of my intentions? By being here, am I unintentionally zapping Nicaraguans of their culture (at least what foreign invaders have left of it)? Perhaps the most harmful question that occurs to me is, what should I be doing instead?
I approached Zach with some of these questions. What am I doing here? Should I even be here? What is my role here?
¨No me importa,¨ he said. (It doesn´t matter to me). ¨Lo que me importa es que estés.¨ (What matters is that you are here)
I chuckled, took a deep breath, and reflected on this. Sometimes, I need to let go of spiraled intellectual baggage, and just be in Nicaragua. After my deep breath, Zach said, ¨pues, almorcemos?¨ (Well, can we go eat lunch now?)
Always, Zach. Well, at least til December.