A Postcard From: Elizabeth Robinson

Name: Elizabeth Robinson
Class Year: 2018
Major: Biology
Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.

Internship Placement: Centro de Informacion y Servicios de Asesoria en Salud (Center for Information and Health Services)
Job Title: Volunteer
Location: Managua, Nicaragua

What’s happening at your internship?

Currently, the Center is working towards a new campaign to make young people more aware of their rights — specifically, their sexual rights. For example, using groups of teenagers in the community, the Center is working to initiate a social media campaign to both provide easy access to knowledge about sexual rights and to garner support from other young people using platforms like Facebook online.

Why did you apply for this internship?

My reasons for applying to CISAS are three-fold. I wanted experience living abroad, experience immersed in another language (of which I am currently minoring at Bryn Mawr), and experience working with a nonprofit devoted to improving the health of community members. My concurrent study of biology and Spanish has created an interest in public health both internationally and domestically with Spanish-speaking populations.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

Living in Managua, Nicaragua, has really opened my eyes to the ways in which other people live and has highlighted the differences between the ways in which people communicate and live in Nicaragua and in the United States. For example, the street on which I live with my host family is a very closely-knit community — doors are constantly open and people are constantly visiting each other and talking across the street. Children are always playing with each other and with pets in the street. My host sister has friends in practically every house on the street, too. This is opposed to the more private way of living in the United States with closed doors, more distance between neighbors, and acquaintance relationships rather than close friendships. Interestingly, almost every house on the street and in the neighborhood sells things. If something is needed, like a bus pass, often a close neighbor sells them. Information is often gathered by word-of-mouth.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

The biggest challenge I have faced working with CISAS has been the language barrier. I have only worked here for one week so far, so I have lots of room to improve both speaking and listening to Spanish. It has been difficult to understand what the people I work with are saying in a conversational setting, and as a result, I often misunderstand simple questions that I could have understood if they were spoken slower of if they were written. However, I am already starting to “think” in Spanish! I am very excited to continue to improve and to hopefully leave Nicaragua with much more confidence speaking Spanish.