By: James Nightengale, Teen Board Member
Four years ago, I went with my dad to a small informational meeting hosted by the mother of a girl I barely knew, about a trip to a country I'd never heard of. Little did I know that that would mark the beginning of my incredible relationship with Dos Pueblos and the community we have created around these youth delegations to Nicaragua. That first trip - the first time Dos Pueblos had ever sent an official delegation - was life changing for me. I became really close with my fellow delegates and was surprised and delighted at how much I bonded with the Nicaraguan teens. I adventured outside of my comfort zone and was rewarded with memories I will hold on to forever. What I didn't sense was that this trip would lay the groundwork for even greater trips that would go farther and achieve even more.
As the years went by, I saw the youth delegation reach even higher, creating change that resounded within the Tipitapa community. I've watched the Nica teens become more self-confident, happy, and heard stories about their plans for the future. There is something so unique about the connection between this group of New Yorkers and the group of Tipitapans that makes each delegation more powerful than the last. We are able to easily overcome the language barrier and instead focus on relating to one another through jokes about pop culture, playing games together, or sharing a day at the pool. Although I was unable to continue going on the delegations after the second trip, I have kept in contact with the teens and have heard the stories about every trip since. I participate in the Youth Board and help address any issues that may come up throughout the year as we prepare for the next trip.
Being a part of Dos Pueblos has taught me what it means to be a human in an international context, how to make friends despite a difference in language, and has caused me to rethink what entitlement really means. Watching the small youth delegation of 2010 grow to a group of 40 in 2016 has been exciting and a privilege to be a part of. I look forward to the future of the delegation and know that things can only get better from here.