In January we welcomed 3 new people into our Mannamily. While we were sad to say goodbye to Nicole, Mikey and Kat we were excited to welcome Juliene, Erica and Brendan. They’ve been here for a little over a month and have gone all in since Day 1. Here is a quick intro to each of them and their impressions of life in Nica so far.
My name is Juliene Joyner, I’m from Monroe, Louisiana. As soon as I arrived at the Manna house, I had my first Nica experience. I was asked immediately “would you like to help us push the microbus back up the hill?” I was a little confused, but of course I said yes. We all went down the hill together and began to push the microbus back up the hill. We were trying as hard as we could and laughing at each other at the same time. We eventually got the bus far enough up the hill to roll it down and get it to start. As soon as the bus started, we all began cheering and high fiving with the energy we had left. This experience describes my first impressions of Manna. Yes, you will have to do things you are not accustomed to, but you are doing it together with a group of people who give it their all in order to make Manna Project an effective and successful organization. Immediately I knew this experience and these people would impact my life in a positive way. Honestly, I was a little worried about living without air conditioning or hot water, but those things became miniscule to me after the first time a community member called me by name and welcomed me with a giant hug just for coming by their house to say hello. It is hard to describe what it is like to be a part of such an amazing organization. I recommend if you are ever given the opportunity to participate in something like this, you do not hesitate. It will be worth so much more than you could have ever predicted.
I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from New York University with a double major in Chemistry and Spanish. After studying abroad in Argentina as an undergrad, I decided I wanted to spend time improving developing communities in Latin America after graduation. I chose to work with Manna given the unique opportunities it provides to work with different programs, and I appreciate its holistic approach to development. Since arriving in January, I’ve been surprised by the close relationships Manna has with the community and by how hard all of my fellow PD’s work. I’m excited to continue improving my Spanish and live with eleven awesome people. My favorite experiences so far have included teaching an English class of over 100 students, learning how to take blood pressures in the clinic, going cliff jumping in Somoto Canyon, eating Elena’s amazing buffalo chicken, and playing with our new puppy, Tola. I already feel at home in Nicaragua and can’t wait for what challenges and adventures the next several months will bring.
My name is Brendan Reaney and I am from Braintree, MA. I graduated from Westfield State University. Throughout my college career I took part in athletics, academic societies, and volunteered for various organizations. In September of 2012 I interned with the law firm Dunn & Phillips P.C. My experience as an intern provided me with valuable legal knowledge and most importantly cemented the idea that I wish to attend Law School in the near future. I first learned about Manna from a close friend and current program director Danny Silbert. What drew me to Manna are the close connections the organization has with local communities. Community members are not only joyous participants in Manna programs, but also welcome new PDs into their homes with open arms. In my short time in Nicaragua I feel I have been able to significantly improve my Spanish while making serious relationships with community members who speak little to no English. It has been an exceptional experience thus far and I can only imagine what the future holds for me in Nicaragua.