How Traveling Abroad Changed My Life

This winter I had the amazing opportunity to serve a third world country. Through Beyond Bama I, along with about 50 other people, traveled to Nicaragua for a service trip. I did my research before and one fact that stood out the most to me is that Nicaragua is the second poorest county on the western hemisphere behind Haiti. I had no idea what to expect but I was excited to learn – about the culture, about the people, possibly about myself. We had three different trips: medical, education, and economic (the one I was on). For the economic trip, we learned and participated in the whole coffee making process. We started by picking the berries, depulping (squeezing them out of the shell), then after they sat out and dried for 10 days we peeled the skin off and roasted them. It was a lot of hard work but it was so rewarding and the community of Santa Julia was immensely appreciative of what we did. Needless to say I have a whole new appreciation for coffee.

We were told to find different ways to market coffee beans other than through drinkable coffee. Our group, along with a group from Auburn, made mini trees with coffee beans, bracelets, earrings, and candles. At first we were divided because we didn’t know each other as well. As we went through the week, we all bonded and grew closer together. There was a point I forgot we were rivals in college football and lived in the moment. I grew closer with the people in my group, in Auburn’s group, and with the people of Santa Julia. I was also able to improve my Spanish a little bit (still struggling but A for effort) and we all were able to communicate together through hand gestures and smiles.

I went to Nicaragua to serve other people but they were the ones that ended up serving me. It sounds cliché but I have been permanently impacted by the week that I spent there. I experienced so much delicious and native foods, I emerged myself in the shopping (a little too much if you ask me), and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. For anyone interested in going on one of these trips, whether it be domestic or international, I say go for it. Go to your schools program and sign up (for Alabama it’s BeyondBama). I promise you will be changed forever and have the time of your life.