Facing Fears and Chikungunya – Michaela Sanchez, Nicaragua 2014-16
Michaela Sanchez served in a village in Nicaragua where she taught English in a community center started by a former volunteer and worked with Nicaraguan English teachers to improve their teaching abilities. Hear her story on this week’s episode of the podcast.
Photos from Michaela’s Story
Michaela Sanchez’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I served with my husband in Nicaragua as an education volunteer from 2014-2016. My main role was working with Nicaraguan English teachers in creating more dynamic activities in the classroom and improving their English fluency level. I also worked at one of the only Community English Centers in Nicaragua, that happened to be in my community, Nueva Guinea. I taught English classes but I also helped create a Board of Directors, a robust network of volunteers, and after-school activities for students that attended school in Nueva Guinea.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
It’s hard to choose just one. I think it was reading “I am Malala” in Spanish with a group of girls from the English Center and the rural community where I taught English, about 10 minutes outside of Nueva Guinea. Listening to the girls share their thoughts, goals, and experiences was something I will never forget.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
Probably when we were awakened by a crash in the middle of the night, to find some type of large rodent running around our house knocking over empty bottles we had saved for recycling. We are still not clear as to what it was. Also contracting Chikengunya was not something I would want to experience again.
What do you miss about Peace Corps?
Besides missing my community and my friends almost daily, I miss being able to connect with people simply by walking by their home and greeting them, starting conversations with strangers, and living and learning about a culture that was so different then my own.
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
Flexibility and remembering that you can only have so much control. I try to remind myself constantly of these lessons, especially upon returning to the US, as they applied to every situation in Peace Corps and when applied to life and experiences in the US as well, they work just as well.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?
It’s not so much of a quote, but a word. The word is Fachento, and it means stuck-up but Nicaraguans use it to tease each other about everything. Like, wow you got a new phone? Fachento. Oh, you’re traveling for work? Fachento. It is one of the first Nicaraguan slang words I learned. When my husband and I finally adopt a dog, we already know his name will be Fachento.