By Sean Willerford, 2010 student delegate

I recently traveled to Ometepe for the third time. I have traveled to many parts of the world, but the sense of friendship and community on Ometepe keeps me coming back. The goodwill of the Ometepinos and the friendship cultivated by BOSIA have created a bond that will last for many years to come.

This year, I traveled to Ometepe as a returning student delegate. I stayed in the town of San Jose del Sur, about half an hour by bus down the road from Moyogalpa. When we arrived, tired and sweaty, we were greeted by a very large, friendly crowd in the auditorium of the local school. There were speeches, none of which we understood, some singing, and then the Nicaraguan national anthem. We then discovered we were expected to sing our own national anthem, which turned out to be a spectacular failure. After some fruit and a small familial mix-up, we returned home with our families.

I spent most of the next few days reading silently, watching the World Cup, and doing my best to communicate with my family, who were kind enough to deal with my broken Spanish. I was relieved to go to the school we were painting and speak English with my fellow Americans. This routine continued until the fourth day or so, when my Spanish skills were finally brushed up and I decided to bring out the playing cards. They were a huge hit, and we spent hours each night from then on playing a variety of both American and Nicaraguan games. I finally began to talk to my family, and learned a lot about them, their relatives and their way of life. For the rest of my visit I felt like I was at home.

Until our trip I had never been good friends with any of my fellow delegates. I knew them vaguely through various classes, but we never spent any time together before our visit to Ometepe. In the first couple of days when we were still uncomfortable around our families and needed English speakers to talk to, we provided each other with the needed lifeline to relax and be able to have fun. By the end of the trip we had formed friendships (both with delegates and Ometepinos) that I, for one, will never forget.