by Eleanor Kane
Ellie Kane is a member of South Church Unitarian Universalist in Portsmouth, NH. She is currently in Nicaragua with nine others from her church on an immersion journey of spirit and solidarity with out partner FEM.
If the first aspect of Nicaragua that left us stunned was warm air, green trees, and the difference from the cold of home, quickly on the heels of that moment came a succession of others: a view of churning magma in the caldera of a volcano, a double rainbow over Lago Xolotlán, and the women we have met so far. The days here are full, and fuller are our minds after each meeting. We have learned of organizations that originated with a dozen women and have grown to change the lives of thousands, spoke with women inspired by the social change around them and have dedicated their lives to joining in, and heard of the odds they face, the culture around them that so resists their work, and the long road they have ahead of them to walk.
Dinner becomes discussions of hegemony, neoliberalism, and what feminism means to us and to Nicaraguans. In the space of those differences and the meetings of that overlap, we dwell in the murk of deconstruction, unlearning what we thought we knew, leaving us grasping for an understanding that leads to questions upon questions. Where we look for answers in conversation and long discussions as a group, in twos and threes, in our journals and the quiet moments of the day, what we find is openings for more wonder, so that we start each day full of the need to know more.
Each morning brings another opportunity to learn, and in our discussions with the women here, we see ourselves, the challenges facing our countries one and the same, differentiated by scale and magnitude, but in pursuit of the same goal.
In all of us lies a mirrored determination and resolve, and we emerge from each day, each conversation, each encounter re-energized and inspired over again. There is more to absorb here than can be done in a week, and more to talk about than we can cover in a day, and as we near the midpoint of our trip, our challenge turns from absorbing these stories to carrying them back home with us. How we will represent this experience to others is nearly impossible, to put into words all that we have seen and learned, the stories with which we have been entrusted. But as difficult a task as lays ahead of us in bringing this week back with us, brought back it will be, for this already has been unforgettable, and we still have days ahead.