Impact At Scale

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Learning Granada, Nicaragua Social Impact Beeck Center

The Surreality of Experiential Learning

By: Costanza Concetti, Georgetown University GU Impacts Student

It amazes me how much a place can move you, how deeply certain people can touch you and change you without saying anything particular, by just existing and allowing you to be part of their lives. My experience with my host family here in Granada, Nicaragua, is almost indescribable. They welcomed me and took me in as a daughter, treating me like a natural, legitimate member of their family and making me feel more at home than I ever thought would have been possible, especially in a place that is the antithesis of my “natural habitat”. In only one week, my immersion within the family has been so profound that they now jokingly introduce me to strangers and relatives who come to visit as “Costanza Vega,” passing me for a fourth daughter who left to study in Italy when was young and only recently came back home.  Simply observing them honestly fills my heart with happiness and “cariño”. Each day I spend here makes me more amazed with how serene and happy they are and how grateful they seem to have each other. I feel so lucky to be given the opportunity to be part of this family and to be gifted with their presence and conversation; any moment spent talking to them feels just as formative, and surely more enriching, as time spent in a lecture.

Today I went to the Laguna de Apoyo with some of the other interns of my group and I was mesmerized, almost entranced by this breathtaking Lagoon that lies within a volcanic crater.  I felt so deeply moved that I struggled with elaborating the feelings this place stirred in me.  Yes, the people I was with are some of the most wonderful people I have met, people I already care about more than I would have ever imagined, but it wasn’t just their company that made today special. It was the silence, the waves, the black sand and the exotic trees moving hypnotically to the sensual rhythm of the wind.  I am consumed with a strangely warm but disquieting feeling just by reminiscing about that view; I do not believe I have ever seen a place more moving.  Hills surround the volcanic crater where now lies the lagoon, gravelly hills covered with dark-barked trees and with a vegetation reminding me more of tales of the Virgin Lands than of the soft Italian hills I am used to.  I found myself drawing the view on a paper napkin; I think I felt the need to freeze the thoughts, the emotions, the inquietude I was experiencing within an image that would tell a story rather than capturing a mere moment in a sterile picture.

The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author of this article do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University or any employee thereof.

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