Knights volleyball team gives service in Nicaragua
by Tenielle Schroeder, WVC Knights volleyball player
Nicaragua is a country where 79% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, one-third of the children fail to complete six years of elementary education and women earn less than half the average salaries of men. This is the culture that the Wenatchee Valley Knights volleyball team experienced on our trip to the third-world country during spring vacation 2011. We had the opportunity to compete against the Nicaragua National Team and helping people in need through a variety of service projects. It was an overall humbling experience that we will carry with us for a lifetime.
The Knights volleyball team had to adjust playing international volleyball in a new environment. In our first game against the Nicaragua National Team, we battled through overwhelming heat and unpredictable wind. The gyms that we played in consisted of concrete ground, loud music, tons of fans, and several children and animals running across the court mid-rally. The most surreal moment was when all the lights went off right before the game started because there was not enough power. We learned to be appreciative of what we have. These were all obstacles that I had not experienced in my entire volleyball career. Despite the difficulties, we played hard, battled to the fifth set each time, and unfortunately fell short. The games brought strong competition, and I had a wonderful time making new friends from around the world.
The most rewarding part of the trip was to visually see and experience the impact I was making in Nicaragua. The team and I participated in a variety of service projects: we traveled to different schools throughout the country to deliver school supplies, read to school children and taught English. We also traveled with an organization called Mobile Library that brings books to children. It was overwhelming to see how excited the kids were to receive one simple book. Learning English was a craving for the Nicaraguans. The small children in the classroom were well-mannered and ready to learn. We also taught English to the waiters in the restaurant el Timon, which was very beneficial for them in their job working with tourists. They were so thankful for the help.
I learned that Nicaraguan women have had rights for only the last decade, which broke my heart. The team and I did everything we could to help at a women’s shelter. We donated blankets, school supplies, baseballs, clothing and a variety of volleyball gear and equipment.
We also had the opportunity to overcome fears, whether it was of heights, deep water or large animals. We soared high in the sky on a zip line that overlooked the entire city of San Juan Del Sur, learned to surf in the beautiful ocean on Hermosa Beach where Survivor was filmed, took horseback rides along the coast at sunset—we did it all. The final day in Nicaragua was spent playing with monkeys, an unforgettable, fun and, for some, scary experience.
The trip to Nicaragua was a life-changing event for all of the volleyball players, including me. We learned that although these people have so little they carry with them so much joy in their lives. The Nicaraguans are thankful for what they have and they taught us to appreciate life. The trip brought forth struggles but we were so blessed to be making an impact on other people. I will take that feeling with me for the rest of my life.
Bring It Sports presents "Nicaragua" Click the image above to view the Knights in Nicaragua video
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