Photo caption: Schroeder's first time on a caponera, a taxi service in the form of a motorcycle attached to a cart. "I was doubtful that we'd all fit but we did!" said Schroeder. Pictured from left to right: Keyla Cortez Venegas (Angelica's host mom), Jenna Denlinger (SALTer), Ninoska Espinoza (Kailey's host sister), Kailey Schroeder, Katherina Margarita Hernandez (Kailey's friend) and Angelica Natareno (YAMENer). (Supplied photo/Kailey Schroeder)
The following posts were written by SALTer Kailey Schroeder for her personal blog Daily Kailey before and after she left Nicaragua due to COVID-19. In these posts, Schroeder shares about how she came to the decision to leave Nicaragua and reflects on her experience of transitioning home early from her SALT placement. Schroeder lives in Steinbach, Manitoba with her parents.
Heartbreaks and Thank yous - posted March 30th
I have been procrastinating about writing this blog.
Due to the coronavirus, I made the tough decision to come back home to Canada. While this was technically my decision, I didn't feel as though I had much choice due to borders closing and other factors that played a part. It was a very heartbreaking decision, but now I am home, and it is good as well.
While I can easily dwell on the grief and disappointment that I have been feeling having left (and trust me, I could write a whole novel), I am choosing to dedicate my last blog to celebrating and thanking my Nicaragua.
I have rewritten this part so many times, unable to put into words my appreciation and love for this beautiful country and all it's given to me.
I had no idea the people of Nicaragua would transform my life. I had no idea I would have a new family. I had no idea I would be the one gaining, rather than giving. I had no idea how much others would reach out and be hospitable to me. I had no idea how privileged I am before my time in Nicaragua. I had no idea how much more important it is to listen than speak. I had no idea how being uncomfortable and stretched could bring so much good. I had no idea how yummy a plate of gallo pinto, maduro frito, queso, aguacate and tortilla could be.
Thank you, Nicaragua.
This journey has been wildly good. I am beginning to realize that, even when I didn't know it while living it. Through it all, God has been my strength, my faithful Father, the Divine. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for His constant presence.
So here I am, writing my last blog from my time in Central America. I find it fitting to close with a bible verse that currently rests in my heart.
"On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate." Psalm 145:5
The Journey Continues - posted May 13th, 2020
Alright, you got me. I said my last blog would be THE last, but here I am writing another one. Here's a very real and vulnerable writeup on culture shock and my experience during this transition.
I have been back in Canada for just over a month! This transition so far has been pretty strange, and I don't have anything to relate it to.
There have been several challenges in being back, including finding a job to continuing to processing my time in Nicaragua.
I struggle with pulling out emotions when there is time and space and then hiding them when it seems to be the worst of times. But I think that's okay, and I'm learning that grief doesn't follow any set of guidelines.
I ache to tell my story, share of my beautiful encounters with people and express my heart. So when people ask me about Nicaragua and my experiences, I high five them and share my stories, right? Nope. I seem to be at a loss for words, wanting people just to get it but not knowing what 'it' is. I so badly want to use my spotlight to spread light and knowledge, but I feel unprepared even to face my responsibilities at home. And I just want someone to say, "I get you, Kailey." I was the 'black sheep' for seven months in Nicaragua, and coming back hasn't changed that.
While I felt very loved and accepted in Nicaragua, I was always the white person in the room, giving me attention that I didn't want (or deserve). Latin culture and North American culture are very different, so I was still learning new things and telling my own stories from Canada. Not only am I a Caucasian female, but I'm also an 18-year-old, which tended to change others' views on me. I got used to responding lightly to shocked responses and wide eyes because of my age ("She's so young, can she handle this?"), but it wasn't a confidence builder.
I did not fit in.
I'm back in Canada now, and while I don't have the physical attention I had before, there is something in my heart that just can't rest in the same mindset that I once had. I have been blessed with an experience that has given me so much. It's given me an awareness of immense privilege, a love for Nicaragua and new cultures, stronger relational values and a hunger for justice. So much learnt, to learn, and so much to pursue deeply.
But I still don't feel like I fit in.
That being said, I know that there are many more people who have had experiences like this and who carry this awareness and values. I know that I'm not alone and still have amazing support here at home. I know that there are so many good people in Nicaragua and Canada. I know that everyone's experiences are valid, and we all learn different values from them.
And I know it's okay not to fit in.
(Does anybody feel like they fit in?)
I find peace here, too, knowing that this is also God's plan. I am enjoying being with my family and preparing for my future!
It is such a strange time to be alive, but I'm grateful for each coming day.
To learn more about SALT visit mcccanada.ca/SALT.