by Joe Kirby, Richmond Men’s Basketball ’18
When I hopped on a plane for Nicaragua this past weekend, I was looking forward to a relaxing trip to see my girlfriend and experience a new country.
After just a long weekend, I came back to Richmond with a life-changing experience.
I made my first trip to Central America to see my girlfriend and former Richmond women’s lacrosse player, Brooke Wilson.
She’s participating with a year-long service project called Manna Project International and Lacrosse the Nations. She’s teaching English, teaching lacrosse and providing affordable medical services for people around the community of Managua.
My first few days there we went to a touristy spot called San Juan and went to see an active volcano. We also did several beaches including the Playa Hermosa, which is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’m from Florida!
And while that stuff was a lot of fun, my last day and a half in Nicaragua was really eye-opening.
Once a month, Brooke goes to a host family in a different area. So I got to go with her out to her quadrant, which happened to be providing meals for all of the kids in the area that day.
As we were walking to the host family, we were just surrounded by all of these kids that knew Brooke and wanted to talk to me. I’m actually in a Spanish class right now which definitely came in handy (both for conversations with the kids and on my test this week!).
I got to sit and talk with the host mother and actually understood most of what she was saying. I was able to play soccer with a lot of the kids after dinner and really just take part in all of the joy that they have in everything they do.
Finally, Brooke took me to one of her lacrosse practices so I could really see what she was doing and the impact they were having on the community through the game of lacrosse. I tried to play with them, but I’m not very good. But it was great to talk to them about basketball and give out some of our Richmond Basketball shirts, which they loved.
It was a humbling experience. You see the differences in people’s circumstances and resources, and yet I saw just a genuine love for life and for other people. I felt such a faith in humankind and a different perspective for all of the things I go through here in college.
Who knew that a long weekend could mean so much?