July 22, 2014

Observations While Visiting the United States

 

People On Things They Couldn't Believe About America Until They Moved Here (clink link)** RCB **


This article was shared on the web a couple of weeks ago while the United States was celebrating their Independence.  It was especially interesting for me to read while I was traveling the East Coast with Yeni, my Cuban friend, boss and the Dean at the seminary.


"A lot of people around the world have ideas of what America is like, possibly thanks to Hollywood, or their local news channels, and maybe from what they've heard from families and friends.  But then, they come here, to the grand old United States, and their minds explode."


Here is Yeni's list, published with her permission:

  1. The streets are clean and well-cared for, there isn't any trash.
  2. When entering a store or restaurant, you are greeted with a "Hello" and "How can I help you?" by the employees.  They don't seem annoyed, but really want to help.  The customer service provided in the U.S. looks very different than my home country.
  3. "Everything is big."  The infrastructure and buildings are much larger, especially compared to Managua.
  4. The cities seem to be more organized with a strong attention to detail.  They are creatively designed and kind on the eye.
  5. There is air conditioning available everywhere.  You can avoid the heat if you want to.
  6. No one seems to be informed or excited about the World Cup.
  7. The GPS is amazing.  You can easily get where you need to go without getting lost.
  8. The interstate system is quite amazing.  Our fastest road in the city of Managua is 60 kilometers or 37 miles an hour and there are stop-lights at every cross street.
  9. There seems to be a church on every corner.  In some places that we visited, there were streets just filled with big, beautiful churches.
  10. There seem to be cheaper prices (electronics, gas, cars, etc.) even though people make more money.  Exceptions include housing and fruit.
  11. There are not security guards at every store.
  12. Toilet paper is always available, you don't need to be prepared with a wad in your purse.
  13. You can comfortably walk down the road with your purse and phone out and you will most likely be okay (although I am certain that there are places in the U.S. that this is not the case).
  14. People are friendly, but a bit more distant upon first meeting.
  15. Traffic laws are respected.
  16. People yield for pedestrians.
  17. There are issues of economic poverty and violence.  Not everyone in America is living the "American dream."

July 14, 2014

Loving L.A.

On the later half of my work-trip to the States, I was able to take a few days of vacation and enjoy time with two of my favorite ladies, Jess and Mandy and their guys, who are pretty great too!

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Jessica and I are cousins, born a month apart and for the majority of our childhood lived two houses away from one another.  Mandy and I met in homeroom in 8th grade at Hopkins West Junior High, she has been a faithful friend ever since.

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The girls did such a great job at making our time special.  We enjoyed a (surprise) Sarah McLachlan concert at the gorgeous Greek Theater, spent a day wine tasting and kayaking in La Jolla, we spent a day in LA - visiting Homeboy Industries where we met Father Boyle, and also looked around the the fabric and fashion districts. We also enjoyed nights of DIY crafting as well as a fabulous Independence Day Celebration.  They also patiently assisted me in checking items off my shopping list.

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One highlight of our time together was the palate of food that we ate.  While Managua has some wonderful food, I really miss not having a variety of ethnic foods available to us.  While we were together, we ate Mexican, Thai, Cuban, Korean, Malaysian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Indian and Nepali.  They also made me try an In-N-Out burger, which was pretty good.  And of course, I drank a boba tea whenever it was available.

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Thank-you girls (and guys) for your amazing hospitality and care towards me.  But more importantly, thank-you for your incredible friendship and support.   I am grateful that I get to do life with you!

July 8, 2014

The World Cup

Nicaragua was not represented in the World Cup this year, nor have they ever been one of the 32 teams to make the field.  Currently, we are ranked 176 in the FIFA world rankings with seemingly little hope in sight for making the tournament in four years.  But that does not mean that the people of Nicaragua are not crazy about soccer.

Things have literally been shutting down here.  I left the seminary during Brazil’s game versus Columbia last week.  As I walked the seven blocks to the bus stop it seemed as though I were walking through a stadium as every house blared the game from a television or radio.  At the bus stop there was no one there. It was peak traffic time and there was no one at the bus stop, there was no one on the bus, and I got home in record time.  Of course, the game was on the radio on the bus, and as I walked up the road to our house I placed myself in the stadium with the opportunity to score the equalizer for Columbia.

Because the Nicaraguan nation is not represented in the World Cup the people here feel free to jump on and off bandwagons.  Before the Cup began everyone was rooting for Spain (which bowed out in the group stage) soon our neighbors became life long fans of Colombian and Costa Rican soccer (which have never been prominent on the world stage) and now everyone is putting their support behind the Argentinians.

Being 100% Dutch myself, I am cheering for the orange eleven, the flying Dutchmen, the low land countries as they are referred to here in Nicaragua.  Hopefully the dikes will hold, the little boys' finger will not grow tired and the Dutch will pull off their first World Cup victory and join the ranks of the elite soccer nations!

June 30, 2014

Visiting the U.S.

I (Cassie) have spent this past week in the U.S. accompanying Yeni, the Dean and our boss at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Nicaragua.  We have traveled from Nicaragua to Washington D.C. to Virginia to Georgia to California.  I am assisting Yeni in sharing about the work of the seminary at various meetings and conferences.  This involves me sharing about my experience as a professor and also translating for Yeni as she shares about the work of the seminary.  It has been busy and tiring, but also very rewarding.  I am glad to be by her side as she shares about this wonderful education that is available to students in Nicaragua and of which we are so proud to be a part of.

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We attended and spoke at a conference of a Korean Baptist denomination who have been a long time supporter and partner of the Seminary.  This meant that we ate Korean food at each meal, which I loved and really miss in Nicaragua.  

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Previous Nicaragua MCC co-workers, Adam and Marisa generously drove to meet us for a coffee date while we were in Virginia.  It was great to see them again.

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Beyond our meetings and presentations, we have been able to take a few hours here and there to enjoy ourselves and see the United States.  This is Yeni’s second time in the U.S., but before she had only been able to visited Miami.  As we have visited historical places, Yeni, who is from Cuba, has proven to know more about U.S. history than I.  It has been interesting to visit some of these tourist sites with her and hear her perspective.

Here we are in front of the U.S. Capital and Library of Congress building.

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The following pictures were taken at the FDR monument and at the President’s desk :)

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We were also thrilled to pass by the Nicaraguan consulate. 

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We are currently in Los Angeles, which is a mix of work and play.  Two of my favorite people live here, a blog to come soon on this!