Not really sure why I am choosing this moment in time to start to write again but I am. I realized how much I missed writing and having a platform to be able to share my thoughts and stories. I believe it is both healthy for me and for the reader. Over the course of the next month, I hope to share with you all some of the most impactful stories from my 2.5 years in Nicaragua and then translate that experience to my current life, a grad student in Nashville, TN. How did I get from Granada to Nashville….who knows….but it happened and thus the journey continues.
A quick story. The last few weekends I have gone to different neighborhoods in Nashville to do recruiting for an after school tutoring program that is funded through the No Child Left Behind act. Basically, there is a lot of money out there for companies to help tutor kids who are on free or reduced lunch in order to prep them for the state´s exam. So I have been to a mainly Hispanic neighborhood, a low income projects (all Black), and a mixed low income apartment complex (primarily Black). The comparisons and contrasts between the neighborhoods (housing projects) are worth noting.
Hispanic – lots of houses with just the mother inside. Generally a broken car in the driveway. Certain mothers wanted to take to their husbands before signing up their kids. Did not ask that many questions about the tutoring but seemed a bit skeptical. I felt extremely comfortable in the environment….mainly Spanish spoken. Some men outside drinking.
Project – Set up as almost a campus, green spaces, townhouses. Lots of people outside on porches. Homes smelled of smoke, alcohol, drugs. Usually multi generational. Lots of screaming going on between adults and children. Felt very out of place and that people did not trust me due to race. Probably my own insecurity. Still felt pretty safe in complex. Lots of space between housing units.
Apartment Building – Felt more unsafe, more trash, more deterioration in the buildings, really steep staircases to get up to either 2nd or 3rd floors. Loud music outside….group of guys playing dice and betting. Lots of pimped out cars. Lot of people playing outside (it was a nice day). Felt more comfortable as I guess my first experience in the projects helped. Felt as if parents just wanted their kids to stay after school so they wouldnt have to deal with them….not sure if this is true, just a hunch.
Anyway, the cultural similarities and differences were interesting between the low income black community and the low income immigrant community. Also in many ways I felt like I was back in the barrio in Granada but the colors and language had just changed.