Majors Abroad: Sarah Jaymes Kenney (’14) Shares the Green of Nicaragua

Whitworth-English

Sarah Kenney (’14) is a junior at Whitworth from Spokane Valley. After solemnly vowing to avoid Spanish for the rest of her life, she applied and was accepted to the semester long program at the Costa Rica Center. She’s studying History and English (Lit) and having the time of her life here in Costa Rica!

The photo of Sarah, above, is courtesy of Danny Parker (’15); the photo below, of a drawing from a prison that was used during the Nicaraguan Revolution, was taken by Katie Bergmann (’15).

Nicaragua-Revolution

I was jolted awake as the bus trollopped over a pothole in the road, but it was one of those awakenings where my mind was alert before the rest of my body. Just five more minutes, I thought. But slowly, slowly I remembered that this was the only time I would be on a bus to Nicaragua. So I slowly, slowly opened my eyes.

I wished I had opened them earlier.

Green, green, green all around me. We’d been in a rain forest in Costa Rica, but that one was bulldozed and tailored for the comfort of the people. This was different. The trees hung low against the horizon, colored emerald and evergreen. On the rare occasion when I could glimpse past them I saw that they stretched beyond the distant hills, as if Rapunzel had spread her hair over Europe to Central America and in a rebellious act of her youth decided to dye it green.

This green reminded me of home. I grew up with the forest as my backyard; I went hiking in among the trees and peered past their branches at the sky as a child. To me the green was sacred. Lovely. Peaceful.

Yet as we entered the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, I noticed that the green could conceal as well as protect. Between the lush trees lurked an uneven patch of darkness Rapunzel had missed when she dyed her hair: squatter homes. About five of them  clustered on the slope of a grey-colored river, among jungle plants that grew thick and tall and choked any dreams the residents might have had about providing a backyard for their children.  Smoke rose out of makeshift chimneys that in turn rose out of makeshift tin roofs. But what got me was their size. They were tiny…smaller than the laundry room back at the CRC. A quarter of a tennis court. About the size of a parking space.  And that was somebody’s home—

Before I could fully comprehend the reality of these squatter homes they were swallowed up by the trees, hastily brushed back into the never-ending green mane.

“It’s not easy being green,” a wise frog once said. And now, after seeing the various sides of green in Nicaragua, I’d have to agree with him.

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