New Day, New Hospital

Today, I worked with Dr. Hanna at the Urgent Care Center in Westchester. When I arrived this morning, she was about to be meeting with a patient who had signed a “no” for the consent form for me to watch. In the meantime, I went with another nurse to see a cast get put on because I’d never experienced that before.

When I walked in, I saw the lady who was getting the cast and was like, “Woahhh” (in my head of course). This kind of old lady had two black eyes and the part above her eyes was really dark red. Under her eyes it was literally swollen and black, and she had also broken her wrist. I thought she had been hit by someone, I first assumed maybe domestic violence, because it looked like someone had punched her in both of her eyes. Dr. Hanna told me later on, it was because she had been walking in a parking lot late at night, so it was dark, and she fell on her face and wrist onto those little parking blocks. It sounded so painful, but watching the cast getting put on her was pretty cool to see.

Both today and yesterday, I got to see mostly old people get injections for arthritis. A common case for these patients was that a lot of them had carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Hanna only works at the Downey office on Tuesdays so I am pretty much seeing the same thing each day. I shadowed at this hospital before with her a little bit less than a year ago, so I was already familiar with the kinds of cases she dealt with here.

I wasn’t able to take pictures today!!!! My phone would keep turning on and off so I couldn’t really use it. Hope you enjoyed my senior project! Thanks so much!

Shadowing an Orthopedic Surgeon

Today, I shadowed Dr. Jacqueline Hanna, my friend Jasmine’s mom, at the Western Hand and Orthopedic Center in Downey. All of the patients had to sign a consent form, beforehand, that said it was okay for me to be in the room with them when being seen by Dr. Hanna. This morning, I was kind of in a rush so I didn’t get to eat breakfast but just went straight to the medical center. As soon as I got there, Dr. Hanna was like, “Alright, let’s go see our first patient!” I was so stoked!

The first patient I saw had a bandage over his hand when I first walked in, and he said that his hand and wrist were crushed at work when working with bottles of nitrogen. When Dr. Hanna took off the bandage, he had about 7 to 8 pins sticking out of his hands, kind of like the ones you use for sewing. I could not believe it, I felt the pain just by looking at his hand- it was CRAZY.

Then, we went on to the second patient, who had an amputated tip on his middle finger. There were about 3 other cases of amputated fingers today, but this guy’s finger looked more normal than the rest. The others that I saw today, did not have a nail and were missing more bone. It was kind of gross but I could handle it, and working on an empty stomach helped it. I saw these patients soaking their hands in peroxide, getting their bandages removed, and taking X-rays.

Before I was about to leave, I asked Dr. Hanna if I could take a picture of the rooms and tools the doctors use (without the patients inside because it’s a breach of their privacy), and she said “Of course! Let me see your phone.” The next thing I know, we had a full on photo shoot!! She took me into all of these different rooms, in and out the building, and took like 30 pictures of me. SHE IS SO CUTE, and we took pictures together. I had a blast with her today. She only works in Downey on Tuesdays so next week, I’m going to try to go down there, because she said I would be able to view a surgery.

Dr. Hanna’s office

Slick pic of Dr. Hanna

In one of the patient rooms!

Me in the therapy unit.

Dr. Hanna took this picture. I have one with her but it's on her phone because mine died seconds after this was taken! :(

Me outside of the facility.

My Last Day with the Kids :(

I cried four times today because it was my last day. It was said that all the schools were going to be closed tomorrow because the kids were having a long weekend ( supposedly they get a long weekend every 3 weeks). However the guy who’s in charge at the office, Mark, told us Tuesday that the learning center is always open, so we would be there to work on Friday. But then yesterday, the lady that runs the learning center said that we didn’t work, so today was in fact my last day with the kids which was so sad!! :(((( I have to go the office of La Esperanza Granada tomorrow to fill out a release form and then I’m officially done, which I really hate.

Today, everything was pretty much the same in terms of what I did and what the kids were learning. However, today, I spent a little more time with them playing around and doing puzzles, because it was my last day, their last day before break, Also keep in mind that the kids come to the learning center after school just to learn some more. Today, when I told Rodolfo (I’ve been spelling it Rodolpho) that it was my last day he made me a really cute card with a picture of us on his math homework, which I really didn’t mind. Then I made him one of us on a separate piece of paper for him to keep.

Once all of the kids went home, the volunteers set up tables and gathered around to eat. Every Thursday, we have a picnic where everyone’s supposed to bring something, and during the picnic we talked about what has happened in the past week and say either hellos or goodbyes to any volunteers. I was thanked by a few volunteers for being apart of the program and helping out in the math department. In return, I thanked everyone for welcoming me here and allowing me to enjoy this wonderful experience. I told them that I loved them, the kids, and that I would return soon.

I took a lot of pictures with my kids today during the end of class and after school (learning center) before I had to head home. I got back to my hostal and my mom was here! We went out to eat and walked around for a while, and then came back. My mom went to the hammock and I went inside our room where I just watched all of my videos and looked at all the pictures I had with and of the kids. I started crying a little and stopped, but then my mom came in and asked all about them and I started sobbing- it was so bad. Then I kept saying “Mom I have to come back,” and I know I will because I have a connection with so many of the kids and the staff members.

This experience has honestly been incredible!! To go back to Nicaragua, which is like a second home to me, and help kids learn math was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. These kids mean so much to me and even though it’s only been two weeks, it feels like we are family here in Granada- it’s crazy! I’ll be back to see them soon and I’m so grateful that I had the chance to be apart of these kids’ lives. 🙂

Below are a bunch of pictures from today. I will add videos in my senior project presentation, so you’ll have to wait a little while if you want to see them!! Thanks so much!

Rodolfo and I

Our love/ goodbye letters <3

Baby Rene and I!

My girls!!

My boys Enok and Carlo (not Carlos as I said before)

My Last Picnic!

These Kids Are Wild!

Everyday the kids are constantly running around, or screaming or fighting with each other at the learning center. Today was so funny because two of my kids actually got in trouble.

So there is this thing that the kids do where they take a piece of paper and fold it up into something that looks like a little box. Then, they make an opening in the box and blow into it. Then they go around and smack each other in the head or face with it, and it makes this loud popping noise. It is honestly the funniest thing ever, and all of the boys do it. I actually took a video of one of the kids in my class, William, doing it. He did it to like 6 kids and then got yelled at by one of the ladies that run the learning center. Meanwhile, another kid in my class, Jaime, was ripping off pieces of his homework and attempting to make one of those little box things. The head lady called William and Jaime over and started yelling at them, saying she was gonna call both of their parents and make them leave the school.

I shouldn’t have recorded it or laughed at them getting in trouble but it was so funny I couldn’t help it. All of the kids literally walk across the classroom or across the learning center just to smack their friend in the head with that paper thing. It’s so loud and it sounds so painful, but whenever the kids get hit with it they don’t even react. It is just so funny, I die every time! I don’t think I’m ever going to get over that.

It’s so hard to control all the kids because while those two are going around beating other kids in the learning center, I have five other kids asking for my help and attention.

Meet Jaime :

William smacking people in the head:

The Beginning of the End

It’s Day 2 of Week 2, and that means I have three more days left to spend here with my Nicaraguan children. :(((  Both today and yesterday on my way to work, there was a giant puddle of rainwater in the dirt blocking our path (more like a sea of dirt water). My friends and i didn’t know what to do since we didn’t have a bike or car, but we noticed a wall and basically had to sort of rock-climb. We held on to cement bricks and had like a few inches wide of dirt to stand on. Luckily, today we didn’t have to climb again because someone put out a few rocks as steps to walk on. As I was leaving today, I saw one of my babies, Erick, walking through the dirt water like it was nothing. I was like “My child, what are you doing!!!”

I teach math to second grade students, but yesterday there weren’t enough teachers so I had a couple third graders with me. The second graders are learning addition and subtraction, while the third graders are now starting to learn multiplication. I started freaking out a little because I was like how am I supposed to explain what multiplication is to these nine year olds!! It was pretty easy though, just the basics; I explained it in a way that made it easy for them to understand. For example, with 1 times 3 – I said it was just 1+1+1. I related it to addition and helped them find the patterns that are in multiplication.

I’m getting closer to the kids everyday! They’ll always spot my friends and I walking to work and run all the way towards us to hug and kiss us- IT”S SO CUTE !! Today, I saw one of my babies, Rodolpho, crying in a corner on the floor next to a trash can. He wouldn’t talk to anyone but eventually he told me it was because some kid kept hitting him and when he would tell the teacher, she wouldn’t believe him. It made me so sad because he is always the first one to say hi to me; he also has the most energy and is definitely one of the cutest ones in the school (he’s one of my favoritesssss)!

Every Tuesday, the volunteers have a meeting to introduce new members of the program, say goodbye to those leaving, and discuss what’s going on in each of the schools. Since this is my last week, I stood up and said a few words about my experience here and how I have loved it so much even though it’s only been a week. I need to cherish these last few days with my kids because I know I’m going to cry when I have to leave them!!!

My son Erick!!


When Rodolpho was crying by the trashcan. I had to be very discreet when taking this picture!! 🙁

This Renee! He’s in first grade so I’ve never had a class with him, but he always comes to my table and hugs me throughout the day!

Rodolpho and Erick!!

LDTN3536 JBOX3806



Halfway There

It’s Friday, which means I am halfway done with my time here in Nicaragua. Part of me wants to stay here forever because of the kids I work with and how pretty it is here. I also love hot weather so I don’t really want to leave, but another part of me wants to go home because I miss my sisters, and my parents, and my friends! :(((

During the first hour of work today, my group had seven kids! I gave them all a bunch of worksheets to do so that they could be occupied for a while. However, some would get stuck and ask me for help, but at the same time, the rest kept flying through the worksheets. They would tug on my shirt and scream, asking for more homework, which was pretty funny, but they would yell in my ear and ask whenever I was working with another student having trouble. That first hour was very stressful and frustrating, but I somehow got through it. But as the hours passed, the groups started to get a little bit smaller and less rowdy so that was a good thing for me.

Today I caught one of my babies chewing dried Elmer’s glue off of his hands as we were cleaning up. He had just finished art class and walked up to me, showing me the glue on his hands. Then, he started chewing on it and I told him to stop, but he continued. So I literally had to take both his hands in one of mine and carry him to the sink so that he could wash it off. But when I turned on the faucet, he started splashing water everywhere and would go back to chewing it again. So, one of my friends came and held him while I scrubbed the glue off of his hands. After that, I walked home with my friends, took a nap, and ate. Now I’m gonna go sit on a hammock for a couple hours. Thanks!

P.S. Pictures are still to come! My phone and computer are both being dumb.

The Literal Struggle

I have been having so many problems with the connection here! It says that I posted my first blog at 5 am on Wednesday but I actually clicked publish at like 10 pm Tuesday night. I also can’t really upload pictures to my blog because I can’t download a lot of them on my computer because of the poor internet service (using my little sister’s chromebook). I wake up at 8 am only to eat breakfast because that’s the latest they serve it here at my hostel and it’s free; I don’t leave for work until around noon. Yesterday I found out that the water goes out at 8:30 am so after I ate, I didn’t have water to shower or brush my teeth. I ended up having to use a bucket to get clean and ready for work, and my mom was like “Yeah Leana, the Nicaraguan way,” which I thought was pretty funny.

Anyways, the last two days have been pretty solid here. Yesterday morning, my mom went back home to L.A. for work and I was so scared to be completely alone in a country. However, my grandma came to stay with me last night, which meant that I was only by myself for like 10 hours so it wasn’t too bad.

Yesterday, I walked to work with my friends, taught the kids, and walked back (it’s pretty much the same thing everyday lol). Every Thursday, the volunteers have a picnic after work when the kids are all gone. Yesterday, we were asked to bring something to contribute. I brought juice and my friends brought a bunch of food, so instead of walking today, we took a cab there. At the picnic, we introduced ourselves, ate, and talked about our experiences here so far.

I talked about the kids I teach and how some days they are so well-behaved, but then other days they cause a bit of trouble, honestly just the boys! Every hour, I either have like 2-3 kids in a group or 6-7, and I said in the group that it’s so much easier to work in smaller groups because you have more time to focus on each individual. Some kids constantly give up and tell me, “Profe, no lo puedo,” meaning “Teacher, I can’t do this.” It’s so sad but I always tell them they can and I never let them leave with anything blank on their paper or with a low confidence level. But having bigger groups is tough because it’s stressful for me to juggle so many kids and hard on them because they sometimes feel like they don’t have my full attention. I will send pictures of the kids and the learning center as soon as I can.


P.S. I am publishing this at 10:40 pm (9:40 pm in LA) Thursday May 18th. LOL

Mis Primeros Dias en Nicaragua


For the first two weeks of my senior project, I will be working in Nicaragua at a learning center associated with a company known as “La Esperanza Granada.” At the learning center, volunteers work in different areas of education and help kids with homework and school topics. I’ll give you a little summary about how my trip here has been over the past few days.

So I landed in Managua on Sunday at about 8:00 pm and drove with my mom and grandfather for about an hour to our hostal, El Arca de Noe, in Granda. The next morning I woke up and headed to an orientation, where the volunteer coordinator told us all about the program and gave us tours at each of the fours schools associated with the company. I have five new friends now: 3 chicana girls around my age from Chicago- Paola (22), Adrianna (21), and Karla (18), a girl named Nina from Finland (30), and a guy from Australia named Jonathan or Jonno (24). It is so amazing seeing that we all came from different places of the world to teach something we love in a place that truly needs it.

The kids had class in very cramped rooms with up to 50 kids (maximum). During my visit at the last school, I was walking with my friend, Paola, and right as we were about to leave, we noticed a kid rubbing a rock on his arm. It turned out that he was trying to carve his name into his arm with the rock, and I saw that he had other marks and scars there too. We told him to stop; I asked him to give me the rock and he gave it to me, then Paola told him “Tu cuerpa es tu iglesia,” essentially meaning your body is your temple (church). Years ago when I came to Nicaragua, I saw a kid sniffing on a bottle of Elmer’s glue. Because this is a third world country, it’s really common to see kids asking for attention in ways like this.

*Sidenote: there are 4 schools and 2 learning centers- at the learning centers, we mainly review material covered earlier in the day and work on homework.*

Today, I attended a more in depth orientation, also about an hour long, where the volunteer director told us which learning center we will be working at and gave us the choice to pick what area or station we want to teach in: Spanish, Reading, Art, and Math; I chose math. After the orientation today, two boys named Enok and Carlos, led us to the learning center. This walk was actual death; the walk to the school is 30-35 minutes away and the temperature since I’ve been here hasn’t gone below 80 degrees. Plus it is always humid here in Nicaragua, even when it rains, which is sooo good for your skin but bad for your hair and caused us to sweat a lot.

I worked with kids from ages 5 to 10 in math, teaching them addition, subtraction, and how to write numbers. Every hour, the kids rotated to a different station and I continued to meet more of them! There were only a few kids that were hard to manage, whether they didn’t want to listen to me, gave up on their work and told me they couldn’t do it, or messed with their fellow classmates. I got them under control for the most part and worked individually with each kid who was having trouble understanding the material. I wanted to keep them included and make them feel good and smart around their peers. In general, these kids honestly have so much potential to succeed!! When I was working with them, a lot of them would finish the worksheets I gave them and say like “More, more! I need something harder, Profe!” It’s just crazy to see the ambition these kids possess and how eager they are to learn in such a poor country.

I have eaten so much since I’ve been here, but don’t actually feel too bad about it because I am constantly perspiring due to the humidity and walking at least for an hour and a half everyday. Below I attached some pictures of my time here so far. Sorry for posting so late, it’s taking me forever to download and upload all of these videos, so most of them are from yesterday. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed my first post, thanks for reading!!