Final Post: Reflections

With the increasing busyness that fall and school brings, it has been difficult to keep Nicaragua and my girls at Casa Havilah fresh in my mind, but I have set up little reminders for myself, such as the photo board that hangs above my bed or the background of my computer screen. A problem for me and, I believe, for many students returning from short term service trips is the tendency to compartmentalize thoughts and feelings experienced abroad and leave them in the country where they were first felt them. Painting has been my method of breaking free from this tendency. As I continue to paint the girls of Casa Havilah, using memory ¬†and photo references, I relive with each brush stroke my experience and remind myself to take what I learned in Nicaragua and continue to allow it to shape me into the person I am today. Since returning to campus, I have switched my secondary major from Government to Latin American Studies–realizing this discipline is where my true interests lie. I intend to return to Nicaragua, and may have the opportunity to do so this spring break.

Recently in Latin American History Class I have been learning of Diego Rivera, a Twentieth Century artist who elevated indigenous Mexicans, who for centuries had been told that they were subordinate and useless, to a position of central stage. Painting expansive murals depicting the beauty of indigenous life, Rivera sought to pay homage the neglected through his work. In a similar vein, I seek this same homage in my work. By leaving four murals on the walls of Havilah, I have sought to add light and color into lives previously devoid of hope. With my series of portraits, I seek to show love and value to girls once abused and forgotten by those closest to them.