Written by Inka Johnson, who is an SI Tanzania 2012 Alum and EWH's current SI Coordinator. She worked as an On-The-Ground-Coordinator (OTGC) for our 2014 Nicaragua Summer Institute. She joined during the second month of the program, organizing logistics, addressing problems as they arose, and visiting students at their hospital assignments.
Spring before the Summer Institute:
If you are a soon-to-be graduate, as I am, you’re sure to be bombarded with “So what are you doing next??” questions. How nice it is to be able to reply, “I’m spending 2 months in Central America coordinating a volunteer program with Engineering World Health. We work in hospitals repairing medical equipment.” If you’re already a professional, this also works as an answer to “Any vacation plans coming up? I heard Disney is nice this time of year.”
Summer, on the ground in Nicaragua:
Morning: This morning, I wake up to a bright sunny day in the hostel I am currently in. Since I travel so much to visit all of the students at their hospitals, I decided not to have a “home base” and instead just live out of my backpack for the month. Breakfast is a desayuno típico: eggs, avocado, gallo pinto, a corn tortilla, sweet plantains, cream, and an organic coffee grown in the hills of Matagalpa nearby. Then it’s off to work via chicken bus: old U.S. school buses repainted in ridiculous bright colors and used as cheap public transportation. I’m not quite sure how to get to the hospital, so I just ask around for the best route. Nicaraguans are very open and always willing to help. On the bus, the people-watching is top-notch: women with extravagantly ruffled aprons hawking nacatamales and homemade candies, preteens in school uniforms discussing the latest 8th grade gossip, adorable babies thrust into your lap, and, occasionally, an actual chicken.