I pondered; I discussed with other parents; I researched; I came up with a plan. The plan: establish a long list of nearly-impossible pre-requisites. The pre-requisites included random things like
- find an adult who is willing to travel with you at our expense who can stay for at least half the month
- take self defense
- pay for half the ticket
- plan your OWN volunteer experience; no tagging along on pre-established adventures
- other such pleasant tasks
Much to my surprise, both girls got on the task list right away. They made a list of possible adult travelers. The winner - Katie F. Katie was our "date-night babysitter" in Wichita KS for 4 years when she was 14-18. She is now a wonderful 26 year old who is the perfect choice. She will be there for 3 weeks. The girls enlisted Uncle Bobo & Aunt TJ for self defense. My brother and his wife used to teach hand-to-hand combat skills in the US Army - again, perfect choice. Aneesa worked in the UU nursery. Amara taught flute lessons. Who knew such jobs paid so well!
And they both planned their own volunteer experience. Aneesa convinced her orchestra teacher to let her combine this task with her Honors Orchestra independent study project. Clever bugger! Aneesa spent months working with an elementary school mentor, researching lesson plans to teach music, researching music + Spanish, raising funds for rhythm instruments, and writing... she ended up with a full 4-week (20 lessons) music course designed for 3rd & 4th graders (and a perfect score on her Honors Orchestra project). She will be teaching 2 periods a day in San Juan del Sur at the public school. One day a week, she will travel out to the rural schools and do an abbreviated lesson. A few times during the month, she will teach at an orphanage. Amara had a blast teaching paper quilling in Bangalore to girls in orphanages. She decided this was her path in Nicaragua. She will be teaching several sessions of quilling at the local library. Quilled Creations helped us out with a generous discount and donation of 'damaged goods' that are perfectly usable. During the last week, she is hoping to do a art show of her students' work. And Amara will 'intern' with a local hotel cook. I can't wait to see what she learns from this adventure. Both girls will spend their mornings volunteering & their afternoons at Spanish Ya learning more and more Spanish. Their evenings will be spent chilling with other travelers coming through the small hotel they are camping at.
So today, we ran around getting malaria medicine & typhoid shots (yes, this should have been done a month ago), printing embassy contact information, and realizing we are all pretty nervous about this big adventure. They fly out Saturday evening from Seattle to Miami to Managua. Their first international, solo flight. They've practiced passing customs with our Spanish-speaking friends Jose & Jannette. The bags are shoved full of rhythm instruments, quilling papers, bug spray, sunscreen, mac & cheese, & lots of other comfort foods.
Over the months as I accepted defeat, I shared our summer plans with other parents. Our plans were polarizing - "are you nuts?" "do you want them to die?" "aren't you worried they will get sick/kidnapped/etc?" "what about SAT prep?" "what about summer school so they can fit in another AP class?" "awesome - that is such a great chance for them to grow up!" "You must really trust them to let them do such a great thing!" "This will be the most awesome experience of their lives!" Who knows how summers should be spent in today's competitive academic environment. I firmly believe life is about experiences - most of which happen outside the classroom and prep books. We may be screwing up any chance of Ivies for the girls, but I hope to end up with strong, confident, well-rounded young ladies who know that our privileged lives are not the norm. And I hope they are 100% capable of sharing their hearts, minds, time, and talents with others (at home and abroad).
Moin & I will celebrate our 20th anniversary in a small resort a few hours away from San Juan del Sur. We'll travel to San Juan del Sur the last few days the girls are there to catch the final music concert & art show. Libraries for All will get some volunteer love from us as well. The family will journey back to Seattle together in late July.
So happy travels my babies. I cannot wait to hear about the adventure. Aneesa will be blogging & sharing Amara's photos on her blog - Tuna out of Water.
|bug spray, hand sanitizer, and personal alarm|
|sunscreen, pepto, immodium|
|Lots of goodies to snack on|
|quilling supplies; generous donation from Quilled Creations|