Since SCSRN starting bring groups to San Ramón back in the 90’s to experience life in this rural Nicaraguan community, some of our most faithful visitors every year have been from high schools like East Chapel Hill High, Greensboro Day, and Durham Academy. Visiting a foreign country, especially a poor country like Nicaragua, can seem scary or overwhelming at first, but the benefits far outweigh any fears you may have. Here are just few reasons why you shouldn’t miss this opportunity:
- It looks good on your college application. I put this one first because it’s the least exciting reason, but it’s still an important one! Having international experience can be the tipping point that makes your college of choice pick you over a similar competitor. International travel (especially to a country like Nicaragua) shows that you have knowledge of the world, that you’re not afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and that you are a well-rounded global citizen. These are qualities that all colleges are looking for in students.
- Your Spanish will get better – fast. Time and time again, we’ve heard from our visitors that they’re amazed at how their Spanish improves in such a short amount of time. You may have the most amazing Spanish teacher ever, but no classroom experience can compare to being fully immersed in a culture where you’re surrounded by the language you’re trying to learn. When you stay with a host family, you are speaking (or at least hearing) Spanish from the moment you wake up till the time you go to bed. But don’t worry – even if you arrive with zero Spanish skills, our host families are masters at non-verbal communication. Even folks who aren’t Spanish students say that they have picked up some phrases by the time they leave.
- You’ll make new friends. The writer Tim Cahill said, “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” This includes the people you meet and the people who accompany you on your journey. Many of our visitors still keep in touch with their host families and guides long after their trip to San Ramón. Some have even come back to visit their San Ramón friends a few times. And the bond you make with your classmates is also very special – nothing solidifies a lifelong friendship like travel!
- You’ll have a great time. Just a few things you’ll do on a cultural immersion ecotour with us: hike through a cloud forest (that’s a tropical rain forest, but up in the mountains), see monkeys and sloths in the wild, swim in a waterfall, learn to dance Latin American dances, and play with kids in a rural school. Many of our high school groups add day trips to other sites in Nicaragua, where they do things like visit active volcanos (and sometimes surf down them), go to the beach, and take boat tours of tiny islands. Nicaragua is a breathtakingly beautiful tropical country – you’ll be planning your next visit before you leave!
- This experience of a lifetime will change you for good. We bring groups to San Ramón because we believe that cross-cultural exchange and mutual understanding are the first steps we all have to take to make the world better. When you step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to learn about the lives of others, your mind expands and you become more capable of compassion and understanding. You become a better decision-maker and a better leader. But this kind of growth and transformation can only happen by pushing your limits- it doesn´t happen by sitting on the couch watching t.v. or with your face glued to your device!
If this sounds like something you’re ready for, talk to your teacher, or write to me here. We’ll find a trip near you, or we’ll work with your school’s faculty and administration to build a trip that’s right for your school. Your life-changing adventure is just around the corner!