Oberlin Blogs

Winter Term Plans

December 22, 2009

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

My official Winter Term project this year is going to Nicaragua with a group from my hometown to do various types of service. I'll be building and repairing homes. I've done this sort of thing before, in the Southern Tier of New York, with several of the same people. The actual work is going to be a bit different than what I've done before, though. The new houses are going to be all brick. I've worked with concrete before, but in the form of making a sidewalk, which is obviously a bit different.

Saying I'm really excited about this is a bit of an understatement. I've spent the past couple of weeks going to co-ops and dorm hall councils asking for money and I've actually raised quite a bit, which is also very exciting. I have to pay for food and lodging and my plane ticket, so the money is really going to help.

My sponsor for the project was recommended to me by a friend who's in the Hispanic Studies department. He was very laid-back about the whole thing, and only stipulated that I give a presentation at Spanish House when I come back. He also said that the presentation could be in Spanish if I wanted, and I managed not to laugh. Just. You see, I don't speak Spanish. I've been doing some lessons online, I've been listening to a lot of Jesus Christ Superstar in Spanish, and I have enough of a background in Romance language that I can guess at a lot of it, but speaking back is a bit of a struggle. I'm not expecting any miracles from this trip as far as my Spanish skills go, but who knows? There's definitely going to be a lot of communication that's going to have to occur in Spanish. Which means that I'm going to be cramming Spanish lessons for the next week or so until I leave.

And later this week I'll tell you about what I'm going to do for the rest of Winter Term, since the Nicaragua trip is only lasting two weeks.

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