Suzie comes to Nicaragua to see her “second family.” Although graduation will prevent her from returning with the Washburn group for a fourth visit, she says she knows in her heart she will be back.

Reserved and thoughtful, the senior in psychology from Cummings, Kan. signed up for the trip to Nicaragua for the first time three years ago at the suggestion of her then roommate. She says Nicaragua is the reason she had to meet that woman. This year it was her turn to suggest the trip to someone else. She talks about Nicaragua and the people of El Limon so often that her boyfriend, Travis, had to see it for himself.

Rick says he was shocked when Suzie told him she wanted to go on the trip a second time. He’d thought she had been pretty miserable, actually. This year, he knew she would be back.

“You’ve been a pleasant surprise,” Rick told her after our final reflection. “I’m so glad to know you.”

In many ways, Suzie’s three visits to Nicaragua are merged in her mind. But she says each has changed her for the better.

She has learned you don’t have to speak the same language to laugh and play with a child. A hug from a woman you haven’t said more than a few words to can make a place feel like home if she hugs you like your mom does. And those who have the fewest material possessions often share the most.

“Life’s not what I thought it was,” she said during our last reflection at Quaker House. “The first trip, I was so far from the person I am now. I was in a bad palce. This has helped me figure out who I am. Seeing Aldo’s passion for origami, El Limon and their passion for family … it helps you figure out what you want your passion to be.”

Suzie knows she’ll feel strange this time next year when the trip happens and she’s working or in graduate school. But she’ll be planning and saving for a return trip to see her Nicaraguan family.

Whatever she does, Suzie will carry in her heart the community of El Limon and the lessons she learned in Nicaragua about the world and herself.

Suzie and Travis

Suzie and Travis

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