News - GC Spanish Major Loves Nicaraguan Experience

GC Spanish Major Loves Nicaraguan Experience

Written by Sydney Holcomb of The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Ill.

GC Spanish Major Christina Bowman Loves Nicaraguan ExperienceWhen Christina Bowman decided to study abroad for a semester in Nicaragua, her main goal was to better herself as a Spanish speaker by learning from the natives.

Although she did accomplish her goal of learning more Spanish, her learning experience extended to the enlightenment of an entire culture.

Bowman, daughter of Rodney and Jane Bowman, is a 2014 Hillsboro High School graduate and an active member of the Hillsboro Free Methodist Church. Although this mission focused study abroad trip was sponsored through Bowman’s college, she has previously participated in mission trips in Guatemala, Mexico, Ohio and Hillsboro.

Since graduation, Bowman has moved on to Greenville College, where she is now a sophomore majoring in Spanish and double minoring in Teaching English as a Second Language and business. For her major in Spanish, Bowman was required to study abroad for at least one semester in a Spanish speaking country.

Bowman traveled with the organization Students International, which also offers trips to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. When asked why she picked Nicaragua over other countries she could have traveled to, Bowman shared she liked that this trip was mission work-focused but in addition, Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America.

Thanks to many supportive friends, family and church members, Bowman was able to set out on her journey Aug. 24, and arrived back in the United States Dec. 5.

Upon her arrival, group members had an orientation for the first week in order to discuss their goals in Nicaragua. Bowman shared one activity she participated in during this orientation was a scavenger hunt around the town they would be living in order to familiarize themselves with the community.

She described her trip as being split into two separate sections. During the first section she said they would go to school from nine a.m. to noon learning Spanish, and then afterward, they were free to explore. For the second section of the trip, they focused on mission work, and some days they would go to small communities or have meetings with local women to spread God’s word.

Although it felt like summer the whole trip, the Nicaraguans did not have the luxuries of summer in the U.S. as power is very expensive there. Bowman said there was no air conditioning, only fans that they were able to use. Also she shared that hot water was not very reliable, but with such heat outside, the cold showers felt good.

In addition, Bowman said the people of Nicaragua were always wanting to help, as well as being very welcoming and loving which made her stay enjoyable. While living in Nicaragua, Bowman experienced Nicaraguan middle class life.

She relayed for the rainy season it would rain daily, and it was very hot. During the dry season, it was less hot and rained very little.

Considering her presence for the extended period of time, Bowman and two other Greenville College girls were assigned to a native host family. Bowman described her family members with fond memories.

She said her family consisted of a mother, father, 15-year-old sister and a grandmother. The organization was selective when picking host families in order to ensure students were with Christian families.

Bowman said her father was an assistant pastor in the church and her mother worked in the church as well. She also said her sister was very fun and spirited, as she loved to dance around the house. According to Bowman, her adopted grandma was very sweet and loving, and she had a very hard time saying goodbye to her.

In addition to her adopted family in Nicaragua, Bowman was able to meet many locals just by walking around the town.

One day Bowman and a girl from Greenville College decided to walk down the street where they met a woman, named Cristine, who pulled chairs from her house for them to sit on. The girls sat with the woman for about a half hour just talking and enjoying the fresh air.

Looking back on her trip, Bowman was most surprised about how quickly it went by. Although before she left she was worried about being homesick, Bowman said that when she felt that way she just reminded herself of the reasons she was here, to better her understanding of Spanish and to strengthen her faith in Christ.

“Having been in their shoes, I will try to be more opening and welcoming to foreigners now that I’ve been one," Bowman said. "Now that I know what it’s like to be a minority, I know the difficulty of being in a country where it’s difficult to communicate.”

When asked if she will ever go back, Bowman said she would definitely go back for a visit to see her family and the people of Nicaragua as the experience was something she will remember forever.

Bowman’s last statement shared some wisdom on traveling she acquired from the experience, “If you feel compelled, just go for it. Get out of your comfort zone, because it’s worth it.”

This article was originally published online in The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois on Thursday, January 28, 2016. It is republished with permission from The Journal-News

This story was published on January 29, 2016

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