Hi, I'm Marlee. I'm a sophomore at Oberlin and the fourth member of the Nicaragua 2010 delegation. Slightly embarrassed by being the last person to introduce themselves on the blog, which I have no excuse for since all I've been doing since I got home is sitting on my couch and eating ethnic food, I'm excited to begin this blogging experience and share it with whoever is reading. Besides being a waste of life in front of my tv, I've also developed a cold recently, and by being lazy am really just attempting to restore my health and save my energy for Nicaragua. This past semester was rough for me illness-wise (I got both swine and seasonal flu a week apart bridged by a solid case of bronchitis) and I'm hoping I've paid my sick dues and will therefore be healthy for the month of January.
After getting over my illnesses, I spent a lot of time at the end of the semester planning and partaking in fundraisers for our trip. My main event was a concert at our dance club, the Sco', featuring a rock band and live salsa band (killer combination). I was pretty disappointed when I showed up to the Sco' the Saturday night before finals, the only available time slot for our fundraiser, to see about 20 people standing in a line bouncing to the rock band. By midnight and the debut of the salsa band, however, many more people had showed up. And anyways, by that time I was so enveloped in my own dancing that I didn't notice anyone else around me, resulting in some accidental booty bumps. In the end, I had a lot of fun, we made a good amount of money, and it made me really excited to go dancing in Nicaragua. I also learned how to book bands and coordinate a concert, a skill I will probably never need again but is nonetheless useful. I am more than ready to be done with the planning process and actually get to Nicaragua where we can enjoy all our hard work.
Like the other girls, I am excited for the weather (I check weather.com on the daily just to admire the 90 degrees awaiting our arrival) and of course for the fruit. And the monkeys on the volcano-filled island of Ometepe, who will distract us from the possibility of volcanic eruptions under our hostel. I've traveled Latin America a little bit; last January I went to El Salvador with an Oberlin delegation, where we spent about a month living with host families in a small, liberal village called Santa Marta. I think that experience has prepared me for this upcoming trip, the most that one can be prepared going into a situation like this. Living without everyday amenities that I take for granted, such as running water, flushing toilets, warm showers, and food variety, takes getting used to. However, my biggest challenge in El Salvador and my biggest fear about Nicaragua is a) knowing enough Spanish and then b) being confident enough to communicate and develop relationships with the local people. Hopefully my practice from last year will help me adapt more quickly this year and let me be shameless in butchering their language. Besides, I can always just dance with them if I'm at a loss for words (dance is a universal language).
Since getting home from school, I've also been looking into Study Abroad programs and subsequently planned my future. I found this really cool SIT program in Chile called Global Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment. And then I looked up the requirements for Oberlin's Latin American Studies major, which is looking more and more appealing. So it's all fitting together: I'll travel Latin America, be premed and major in Latin American Studies at Oberlin, apply my interests by going abroad in Chile, and then become Paul Farmer (the most amazing doctor of all time, if you don't know him look him up!) Now that I've worked out the next 50 years of my life, I can relax in Nicaragua, salsa dance to my heart's content, eat fruit til it's coming out my ears, sleep on hammocks, and of course learn about the history and politics of the country and meet the people that we microfinance through the OSCA Nicaragua Sister Partnership. Hopefully this experience will confirm the interests that I'm developing in medicine in a Latin American context. I also can't wait to connect with the Nicaraguan people that will so graciously let me into their lives, as well as with the three great new Obies that I've just met and will spend lots of quality time with in the next month. Until then, I'll be picking up some anti-malarial medication, reading some required texts for the trip, going skiing, and watching telenovelas in preparation.