“Do something for yourself; do something for others.”

This is a statement that I write every time I begin a new notebook or start to read a book. It provides a reminder to myself that I have been blessed with many opportunities, and that I can share them with others. While this is a small statement to write, I find that this relates to current events and ongoing struggles in the world. I encourage everyone to pursue what they believe is right, but also to listen and reflect on what others say around you. My past few weeks with Outreach360 have provided me insight into a community of ambitious and bright students, just full of potential. This is something I can continue to do, something I can continue to give back through, because I have the potential to change the distribution of opportunity.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

My work-from-home arrangement made possible through Outreach360 and Zoom has made just as much of an impact on me as being in Jinotega, Nicaragua. I hope that it has done the same for the ~15 students I get to teach each day! One incredible aspect of this volunteer internship is that we start each day with some form of professional development.

Photo by Colin Lloyd on Pexels.com

These past few days have been focused on controversy with civility, based on the 7 C’s model of social change. I find the conversations we have each day to be thought provoking, interesting, but also challenging. I have been through 17 years of schooling and not been challenged like this before. The awesome part about this type of internship is that you can hear opinions from people in big metropolitan areas, small towns, hot tropical areas, and even frigid places like Alaska. The difference in opinion never breaks the common goal of providing opportunities to students in Jinotega and Monte Cristi (something essential to a non-profit organization). The challenging discussions have included topics of race, available resources, opportunities, and unbalanced power. These topics are difficult to discuss, but have proven very helpful to openly discuss with open-minded people. These thought-provoking discussions have been just one of the many amazing aspects of this program allowing me to grow as a person in my own identity.

While personal growth is something I am observing during this internship, I also desired to improve the breadth of my cultural knowledge. Through the conversational spanish course and virtual excursions, Outreach360 had already planned for my curiousity towards life in Jinotega. Each day, one of these cultural topics is planned and we’ve visited so much already! From some of the larger cities in Nicaragua, to the volcanoes and islands that are close by, this tropical area has some awesome views. One thing I had never imagined was volcano boarding. Yes, finding a volcano, taking a board up to the top, and riding down the side. I imagine you might want to pick up speed if lava is following you?? Regardless of the rare event of danger, this is something I would totally try when I get the chance to visit Nicaragua.

Other virtual excursions involved visiting various cities with historical significance, and other tropical areas. I look forward to this part of my day because the pictures and videos transport me to a different place and lessen the isolation feels of the last few months. I am blessed to take part in these activities each day and I want to leave you with something today.

Just as I started out this post, please do something for yourself; but also do something for others. We often can leave ourselves drained so take a moment to assess your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Do what you need to start a repair process on any of these aspects of health, and then search for someone else to serve. Provide anything you can. You’ve been given many resources and can do so many things to make this world a better place. If everyone did this, many would be given new opportunities and given a life of choice. This is part of the vision of Outreach360 and it has become a part of me as well.

Published by Brandon Roy

Graduate Student at Cornell University

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