Twelve years later, Megan Moyer Hoger ’00, still remembers washing her clothes by hand, riding the bus to the orphanage where she worked and enjoying an ice-cream cone on a hot Nicaraguan afternoon.
But most of all, what Hoger remembers from her semester-long Study Abroad experience in Nicaragua in 2000 is what it taught her about her own country.
“You get an appreciation of what you have and a better understanding of the way other people live,” said Hoger, who lives in Indianola with her husband, Joel ’98. “You learn that your way is not the only way.”
Hoger and five other Simpson students were part of the first Study Abroad program in Nicaragua. They took classes in the morning taught by Mark Bates, a Simpson professor of Spanish, and then worked at their internship jobs in the afternoon. At night, they stayed with their host families in Managua.
“We were very much immersed in the culture,” Hoger said. “It wasn’t necessarily as glamorous as other places might be. But if you wanted to learn the culture and learn about Central America, it was a great place. You were immersed in everything.”
That includes life with the host families.
“Economically, they were not wealthy families that we were living with,” she said. “You really were able to appreciate everyone’s differences. Not everyone does everything the way we do here, and that’s OK. It’s just different.”
Hoger and another Simpson student worked afternoons at Pajarito Azul, an orphanage for mentally and physically handicapped children.
“The workers didn’t have a lot of time to just play with the kids, so that’s what we did,” she said. “We’d play with them and talk with them and walk around with them.”
It wasn’t all work. Hoger describes trips to Corn Island and Costa Rica. And then there were the periodic trips for ice cream.
“That was our biggest luxury, to go to the shopping mall to get ice cream, because it was so hot,” she said.
Looking back at the experience, Hoger said, “It was one of those things that made you realize how much you had back here and how different the world really lives.”